The top-ranked USC Trojans host the Hawaii Warriors at the Los Angeles Coliseum on Saturday in both schools' season opener.
The matchup includes an interesting coaching duel. Former USC offensive coordinator Norm Chow returns to the Coliseum in his debut as head coach of Hawaii, and faces USC head coach Lane Kiffin, who served as a tight end coach and wide receiver coach under Chow when the Trojans won the national championship under then-head coach Pete Carroll in January 2005.
USC Trojan quarterback Matt Barkley leads his team against Hawaii Saturday at the Los Angeles Coliseum.
Chow appears to have a challenge ahead of him. The longtime assistant is inheriting a team that finished with a 6-7 record in 2011, and has just six returning starters on offense.
The Warriors are led by sophomore running back Joey Iosefa, who rushed for 548 yards in 2011. Junior wide out Billy Ray Stutzmann is also a key member of the offense, after finishing the 2011 season with 78 receptions for 910 yards.
With three-year starter Bryant Moniz having moved on to the professional ranks, Duke transfer Sean Schroeder is expected to take over at quarterback. The Orange County native never threw a pass for the Blue Devils, but has reportedly shone in practice.
USC boasts a far more prominent quarterback. Matt Barkley begins his Heisman Trophy campaign after electing to return to USC for his senior season, despite projections he would be drafted in the first round of the 2012 NFL Draft.
Barkley has some notable targets. Wide receivers Robert Woods and Marqise Lee are coming off excellent seasons, and are expected to play major roles in 2012. The Trojans are also deep at tight end, which should give Barkley plenty of options this season.
Anthony Brown is a player to watch for on the Trojans. The third-year sophomore broke his ankle in 2011, and will be starting at cornerback opposite of Nickell Robey, as Isiah Wiley has been ruled ineligible for the 2012 season.
Another interesting storyline is at tailback. USC was thin at the position over the summer, but received a boost with the transfer of Silas Redd from Penn State. Curtis McNeal led the Trojans in rushing in 2011, but Redd figures to receive a steady amount of carries in 2012.
McNeal rushed for 1,005 yards in 2011. Redd rushed for 1,241 yards for the Nittany Lions on 244 carries, which was four times more carries than Stephfon Green, the second-leading rusher.
The Trojans have won all seven games they've played against Hawaii, and put up 63 points against the Warriors in Lane Kiffin's first game as co-offensive coordinator in 2005.
The game starts at 3:30pm pacific time, and can be seen online here.
Betting line: USC is favored by 42 points
Over/Under: 64 points
Prediction: The Trojans have a recent history of allowing weaker opponents to stay in the game. Expect Kiffin to go for big plays early, and try to close the game out in the first half so he can rest Barkley and play either.
PREDICTED SCORE: USC over Hawaii, 56-17
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