On paper, this game looks like a mismatch, and it will look like that on the grass of the L.A. Coliseum, too. San Jose looks like a .500 this year in a weak conference, and USC looks like a playoff contender led by QB Caleb Williams. The Trojans are going to be explosive.
USC has high expectations this year after former Oklahoma Sooners head coach Lincoln Riley overhauled their roster, adding talented young players that hadn’t been present for quite some time in previous seasons. Caleb Williams passed for 4,573 yards and 42 touchdowns during 2022, adding 442 rushing yards and six scores on the ground. To reach the College Football Playoff four-team bracket, though, Williams will need to elevate all players around him; though Jordan Addison left for the NFL while Kyle Ford joined rival UCLA, there will still be ample weapons at Williams’ disposal.
Notable transfers on this team include running back MarShawn Lloyd (5.23 yards per carry with South Carolina), and receiver Dorian Singer (1,105 receiving yards with Arizona), who will bring playmaking experience. Up-and-comers Zachariah Branch and Raleek Brown were highly sought-after recruits, while tight end Duce Robinson offers tremendous potential; all will play behind an offensive line revamped this offseason via three starters arriving through transfer portal.
The Spartans face numerous holes on both sides of the football, yet can take comfort in having Chevan Cordeiro back at quarterback – having spent his six seasons of college football all in Mountain West Conference play. Last season for SJSU, this former Hawaii gunslinger passed for 3,251 yards and 23 touchdowns while running for nine more scores on his own. He led an offense that returned four starters on its offensive line but must improve in creating holes for its running game. Running back Kairee Robinson (157 carries for 752 yards and ten touchdowns) should take full advantage. San Jose State led the Mountain West in passing game last season, so their passing game should remain formidable this season despite losing most of their top receivers from last season.
Cade Hall (7.5 sacks) and Viliami Fehoko (9.0 sacks), who both played critical roles on SJSU’s top pass-rushing team last season, graduated out of eligibility. Nonetheless, replacements should exist within SJSU’s pass-rushing unit; Byrun Parham led their linebacking unit with 74 tackles; secondary players like safety Tre Jenkins (2 interceptions) and former USC safety Chase Williams (2 INTs) should prove difficult for opponents to throw against.
I think San Jose will be able to move the ball in the air, but not enough to cover this spread. I look for USC aerial assault to blow this open early. USC 56 SWan Jose State 20. Take the Trojans -30.5.
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