It’s hard to see USC crashing & burning as hard as they did last season, but there’s not a year that goes by without expectations for the Trojans, or pressure, like keeping their undefeated record against Hawaii intact.
Last season was one of the worst cases of a preseason favorite completely falling apart during the season. The Trojans lost five of their last six games, finishing with a 7-6 record while Matt Barkley was out for the final two games, and losing to Georgia Tech in the Sun Bowl.
Expectations are always high in Southern California, even if they’re not even one of the top 2 teams in their own conference. No one is talking about national championship or going undefeated, but it’s safe to say that not having a trustworthy quarterback (it’ll be shared, at least early on by Max Wittek and Cody Kessler) doesn’t change the fact that another season like last year will mean getting fired for Lane Kiffin, entering his 4th season with the school with a 25-13 record so far.
Their schedule, including the opener, is more or less comfortable. No Oregon, and they’re playing the strongest team in the conference, Stanford, at home, while their visit to Oregon State and South Bend seem like their trickiest away games.
For Hawaii, anything better than last season will be acceptable. They finished with a terrible 3-9 record under Norm Chow (his first season with the team), while quarterback Sean Schroeder comes back for his senior year, hoping that his offensive line will be a little bit less leaky, as he was sacked 35 times, more than anyone else in the Mountain West.
But the story in this game will be USC and Marqise Lee, who admitted the Trojans lost focus last year after losing their second game of the season, knowing it’s not going to end as expected for them. Their defense is returning Silas Redd who has the potential to be one of the more exiting running backs in the Pac-12, let alone the nation. There’s talent, only not championship talent.
Predictions – Hard to see Hawaii making some sort of upset in this one, or even coming close. USC beat them 49-10 last season in the opener, and it should be quite similar this time, only with a lot more running from the Trojans, who only need to keep their hopes down this season and not let a loss or two take them off their path to improvement.