When: Saturday, Aug. 30, 4:30 p.m. PT; Where: LA Coliseum; TV: FOX
Key player: USC QB Cody Kessler
While Kessler doesn't receive nearly the hype of Pac-12 counterparts Brett Hundley and Marcus Mariota, the success of the 2014 Trojans likely rests on the junior's shoulders. There is talent at the skill positions, and Kessler has to get the ball in the hands of his playmakers while also making correct reads and mistake-free throws. After passing for 2,967 yards and 20 scores in 2013, Kessler hasn't yet hit his ceiling at USC.
Intangible: Dealing with distractions
How will the Trojans respond to this week's off-the-field news? With the suspension of Josh Shaw, and the strong words from an ex-USC player toward head coach Steve Sarkisian, the Trojans should be aching to get on the field and focus on football. Fresno State is looking to score a season-opening upset, so no matter how talented the Trojans are, they can't be caught with their heads in the sand.
Across the field: Bulldogs WR Josh Harper
Despite missing last season's final two games with a strained groin, Harper caught 79 passes for 1,011 yards and 13 touchdowns in 2013. While the Bulldogs are still settling on their starting quarterback, Harper will be ready. "Playing USC, it's just another regular-season game to me," Harper told the Fresno Bee.
Cary Edmondson-USA TODAY SportsCary Edmondson
Prediction: USC 42, Fresno State 21
If USC can keep its focus, this game should be all Trojans -- Fresno State simply does not have the talent to keep up. However, if this week's off-the-field situations have affected USC more than it has admitted, the Trojans could be in for a long afternoon in the Coliseum.