Nov 4, 2023; Eugene, Oregon, USA; Oregon Ducks quarterback Bo Nix (10) throws a pass during the second half against the California Golden Bears at Autzen Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Troy Wayrynen-USA TODAY Sports

With Pac-12 title game in sight, No. 6 Oregon welcomes USC

Sixth-ranked Oregon will try to move one game closer to reaching its fourth Pac-12 championship game in five seasons when it welcomes visiting Southern California to Eugene, Ore., on Saturday.

The Ducks (8-1, 5-1) held firm at No. 6 in the College Football Playoff rankings released Tuesday, tops among all one-loss teams. They roll into Saturday’s matchup winners of three straight, all by at least 14 points, after last week’s 63-19 blowout of Cal.

Quarterback Bo Nix enters the game a rising candidate for the Heisman Trophy with 2,723 yards on 235-of-301 passing with 25 touchdowns against just two interceptions.

Nix has also rushed for five touchdowns to pace the nation’s most prolific scoring offense at 47.4 points per game. USC is second in the nation at 45.5 ppg.

The Trojans (7-3, 5-2) have scored no fewer than 32 points in any of their conference games behind reigning Heisman Trophy winner Caleb Williams.

Williams went 27 of 35 for 312 yards with three touchdowns and rushed for another score last week vs. Washington, but the USC defense surrendered a season high in points for the second time in as many weeks in a 52-42 loss.

The Trojans gave up 49 points a week prior in a one-point win at Cal and come into Oregon having allowed at least 41 points in five of their last six outings.

USC’s defensive struggles led to the dismissal of coordinator Alex Grinch on Sunday. Defensive line coach Shaun Nua and inside linebackers coach Brian Odom were promoted to co-defensive coordinators to replace Grinch.

“Any time you have a situation like this, you start to look at, OK, who would be the next man up, the same way that you would an injured player,” USC head coach Lincoln Riley said on his weekly radio show appearance on Monday. “(Nua and Odom) both have great experience coaching their positions.”

The new co-defensive coordinators face a considerable task for the Trojans’ final two games. USC has allowed 34.5 points per game, more than any other power-conference team save Cal.

In last week’s loss — which put the Trojans in a must-win position this week to salvage any hope of making the Pac-12 championship game — USC gave up 256 rushing yards and four touchdowns to Washington’s Dillon Johnson.

Oregon, meanwhile, boasts one of the conference’s top ball carriers in Bucky Irving. He averages 91.2 rushing yards per game, has scored nine touchdowns on the ground and gains an average of 6.9 yards per carry.

Saturday will not be an Oregon team’s first time seeing an Odom-coordinated defense. Ducks coach Dan Lanning noted that Odom called the defense in Oklahoma’s 47-32 Alamo Bowl win over Oregon in December 2021, prior to Lanning’s arrival. Odom took over play-calling duties for that game after Grinch left to follow Riley to Los Angeles.

“There will be a lot of similarities to some of the stuff they already do,” Lanning said during his Monday news conference. “That group will probably have some new wrinkles we potentially haven’t seen. But it all comes back to what football’s all about: tackling, blocking, breaking tackles, making catches.”

–Field Level Media

Sep 2, 2023; Los Angeles, California, USA; Southern California Trojans quarterback Caleb Williams (13) reacts against the Nevada Wolf Pack in the second half at United Airlines Field at Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

No. 6 USC vies to continue fast start vs. rival Stanford

It’s the beginning of the end in the Pac-12 for No. 6 Southern California this weekend, and it’s only fitting that it starts with its oldest opponent in the conference: Stanford.

The Trojans and Cardinal have been going toe-to-toe with each other since 1905. They will add a chapter in their storied legacy Saturday night at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum.

USC (2-0) has come out hot, albeit against subpar competition. The Trojans overwhelmed their first two opponents — San Jose State and Nevada — by a combined score of 122-42. The offense has been clicking on all cylinders, solidified under center by reigning Heisman Trophy winner Caleb Williams.

The No. 1 prospect for the 2024 draft, according to Field Level Media and other outlets, Williams already has thrown nine touchdown passes to five different receivers. Against Nevada, he completed 18 of his 24 pass attempts for 319 yards and five TDs and added a 46-yard scramble in just three quarters.

It’s a stereotypical Lincoln Riley team thus far. The offense is buzzing, but the defense still is the biggest question mark. It’s hard to get a grasp of the defense given the opposition, although Riley has been encouraged with what he’s seen.

“The guys really stepped up and communicated; you saw the run defense was really stout all night. Other than two fade balls we gave up … we played really clean football,” Riley said. “For us, it’s just a steady climb; we can’t beat anyone until we play them. I think we took some really positive steps (against Nevada), but with college football, every week is its own story.”

Stanford (1-0) poses a bigger test for that USC defense this weekend. Last week, in a 37-24 victory over Hawaii, the Cardinal rolled up 406 yards of offense in a balanced attack.

Quarterback Ashton Daniels played well in his first career start, completing 25 of 36 passes with 248 yards and two touchdowns. Daniels also was active on the ground, rushing 11 times for 42 yards.

Daniels already seems to have found a favorite target in senior tight end Benjamin Yurosek, who had nine catches for 138 yards and a touchdown against the Rainbow Warriors. It was his career high in receiving yards and one catch away from tying his personal best in catches.

Stanford first-year coach Troy Taylor has to earn his money to return the once-illustrious program to its winning ways. The Cardinal has a 14-28 record in the last four seasons but made a statement in their season-opening win.

“Going in with such a young team, you’re waiting to see how they react to adversity, and when things don’t go their way, they did a great job,” Taylor said. “They hung in there. There were a number of different times when the momentum could have swung the other way, and I thought all three phases of the game were great.”

The Trojans hold the advantage in the all-time series against the Cardinal, posting a record of 64-34-3.

“This will be potentially the last time these schools match up for a long time, and there’s a lot of significance to that,” Riley said. “We need (the Coliseum) rocking next Saturday.”

–Field Level Media

Notre Dame's Audric Estim during Notre Dame Fall Camp on Wednesday, July 26, 2023, at Irish Athletics Center in South Bend, Indiana.

USC, Notre Dame massive favorites in Week 0

Welcome back college football, where being a favorite in Week 0 easily equates to a double-digit point spread.

No. 13 Notre Dame is the first team out of the gate with a 2:31 p.m. ET kickoff Saturday in Dublin, Ireland. The Fighting Irish roll into the matchup with Navy as 20.5-point favorites and won the last meeting in Ireland by 40 points.

Southern Cal is favored by 30.5 points over San Jose State in the lone Week 0 nightcap involving a Top 25 team. That’s the biggest number to cover on the board Saturday.

UTEP vs. Jacksonville State is the tightest spread available at BetMGM among Week 0 games on the board with the Aztecs favored by 2.5 points.

Navy has a new coach, but the same pesky — archaic might apply — offensive scheme. The triple-option can be prone to long drives, less points and fewer possessions. But that’s only when it works.

The Irish have speed and depth on defense that shouldn’t be overlooked even facing an unconventional scheme. With months and weeks to prepare, Notre Dame shouldn’t be surprised or undisciplined, the undoing of teams who rarely overlap with the option attack.

Skill-position talent and offensive line play are major Notre Dame advantages.

If the Fighting Irish pull away early, Notre Dame’s playmakers in the secondary might become the story.

–Notre Dame vs. Navy
By the book (FanDuel)
Spread: Navy +20.5
Over-under: 50.5 total points
Money line: Navy +800; Notre Dame -1400
Noteworthy TD scorer props:
Notre Dame RB Audric Estime -270
Notre Dame RB Chris Tyree -125
Notre Dame QB Sam Hartman -105
Notre Dame WR Tobias Merriweather +100
Notre Dame TE Mitchell Evans +110
Notre Dame WR Jayden Thomas +120
Navy QB Tai Lavatai +175
Notre Dame defense +420

–Field Level Media

Southern California Trojans quarterback Caleb Williams (13) celebrates Tahj Washington (16) scoring a touchdown against the Notre Dame Fighting Irish during the first half at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

Caleb Williams, No. 6 USC set sights on San Jose State

Heisman Trophy in hand, USC quarterback Caleb Williams feels like he has unfinished business as the 2023 season kicks off.

Determined to add a national championship to his resume, Williams begins that quest Saturday when the sixth-ranked Trojans take on San Jose State in Los Angeles.

Williams more than measured up to expectations in his first season with the Trojans.

Aside from setting USC single-season records for total offense (4,919 combined yards) and touchdowns (52), Williams was named Pac-12 Offensive Player of the Year, AP Player of the Year and was the seventh Trojan to win the Heisman.

Now among favorites to be the No. 1 pick in the 2024 NFL Draft, Williams insists his focus is anywhere but individual accolades.

“We’ve got a lot to go get this year,” Williams said. “Everyone has the same goal and mindset this year. A whatever-it-takes kind of mindset to get all of what we want. It’s going to be a good year. Can’t wait.”

In addition to seeing how Williams will follow up his Heisman season, USC coach Lincoln Riley has other reasons to be excited, as he feels like his team is extremely deep heading into the season opener.

“Little more competition across the board. There was probably less position battles at this point (last year), or you kind of knew who was gonna play,” Riley said. “But there’s still a lot of youth on this team.

“We’ve got a lot of work to do, we got a lot of growing. We’ll have to grow some during these early games.”

Riley, also entering his second season in LA, led the Trojans to an 11-3 record in 2022.

The Spartans have lost all five of their all-time meetings with USC, but San Jose State coach Brent Brennan believes this year’s group has what it takes to end the losing streak.

“It’s been a great training camp, our players have worked extremely hard,” Brennan said. “I feel really good about our coaching staff and the teaching and just the vibe and the culture of this team I think is really healthy. As you look at our schedule, we’re gonna need it. We’re opening with an incredible opponent with USC.”

Chevan Cordeiro, who was named Mountain West Preseason Offensive Player of the Year, returns as the starting quarterback for SJSU.

Cordeiro spent four seasons at Hawaii before joining the Spartans last season. He tallied 3,251 yards passing with 23 TDs and six interceptions.

Brennan is preparing for Cordeiro’s counterpart, and knows that slowing down Williams will be a tall task.

“We’re playing against the best player in America, right? And so that presents a whole different kind of challenge,” Brennan said. “He’s very strong, it’s hard to get him down, and his ability to make every throw — whether he’s in the pocket or on the move — makes him incredibly hard to defend.

“So that’s gonna be a big challenge for our team.”

San Jose State safety Tre Jenkins will look to help disrupt the Trojans’ passing attack. A three-time All-Mountain West honorable mention, Jenkins tied a career high with two interceptions last season to go along with a career-best seven pass breakups.

–Field Level Media

Sep 18, 2021; Pullman, Washington, USA; USC Trojans helmets sit during a game against the Washington State Cougars in the first half at Gesa Field at Martin Stadium. Mandatory Credit: James Snook-USA TODAY Sports

Labor board issues complaint against USC, Pac-12, NCAA

The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) filed a complaint against the University of Southern California, the Pac-12 and the NCAA on Thursday, alleging that those organizations violated a provision of the U.S. Labor Relations Act.

The crux of the complaint comes over the distinction between the terms “student-athletes” and “employees.” The outcome of the case could portend a shift toward student-athletes being treated as employees.

The complaint reads, in part, “At all material times Respondents, both jointly and severally, have misclassified the Players as non-employee student athletes, including in the USC Athletics Student-Athlete Handbook.”

A hearing is scheduled for Nov. 7 in Los Angeles that could result in an order requiring all parties to cease referring to players as “student-athletes” and instead classify them as employees in all official documents.

If a judge were to rule against the university, league and NCAA, those entities would have avenues for appeal, setting the stage for a potentially lengthy legal process.

Depending on outcome, the case could usher in an era of unionization, per multiple observers in the legal profession. That would follow an attempt at unionization by Northwestern University football players in 2014-15 that ultimately ended with the NLRB deciding not to accept jurisdiction.

The current case stems from a complaint filed by the National College Players Association (NCPA) with the NLRB in February.

“Coaches, athletic directors, and conference commissioners are making millions of dollars while NCAA sports denies athletes fair compensation, breaks minimum wage and overtime laws, and avoids workers compensation while hazardous workplace conditions remain unchecked,” NCPA executive director Ramogi Huma said in a statement. “We are working to make sure college athletes are treated fairly in both the education and business aspects of college sports.”

–Field Level Media

Oct 29, 2022; Tucson, Arizona, USA; Arizona Wildcats wide receiver Dorian Singer (5) reacts after being ruled out of bounds against the USC Trojans during the first half at Arizona Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

USC adds Pac-12 receiving yards leader Dorian Singer

Southern California added another offensive weapon for Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback Caleb Williams, landing Arizona transfer Dorian Singer on Monday.

Singer led the Pac-12 in receiving yards in 2022 with 1,105 in 12 games for the Wildcats. He was a second-team all-conference selection and becomes the third former Arizona player to commit to the Trojans this month, joining defensive lineman Kyon Barrs and cornerback Christian Roland-Wallace.

All three players are eligible to play for the Trojans immediately.

Singer caught 66 passes for the Wildcats, including six for touchdowns.

The Trojans should be happy to have Singer on their side. In a 45-37 loss to USC on Oct. 29, Singer had one of his best games of the season, catching seven passes for 141 yards with three touchdowns.

USC is 11-2 (8-1 Pac-12) entering its Cotton Bowl matchup versus Tulane. Arizona was 5-7, 3-6.

–Field Level Media

Nov 12, 2022; Pasadena, California, USA;  UCLA Bruins head coach Chip Kelly calls a play in the second half against the Arizona Wildcats at the Rose Bowl. Mandatory Credit: Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

No. 16 UCLA aims for improved Pac-12 standing vs. No. 7 USC

College Football Playoff stakes may be off the table when rivals Southern California and UCLA meet Saturday in Pasadena, Calif.

The No. 16-ranked Bruins still have Pac-12 Conference championship aspirations when they host the No. 7 Trojans.

UCLA (8-2, 5-2 Pac-12) stumbled out of realistic playoff contention with its 34-28 loss to Arizona last week. The Bruins surrendered 315 passing yards to Wildcats quarterback Jayden de Laura.

The task remains difficult this week when the Bruins face Trojans quarterback Caleb Williams. The Oklahoma transfer immediately thrust himself into the Heisman Trophy conversation at the beginning of the season and has not relented en route to recording 3,010 passing yards with 31 touchdowns, and another 283 yards on the ground and six rushing scores.

Despite Williams’ ability to turn broken plays into positive gains, UCLA coach Chip Kelly said defending the USC quarterback requires a different approach than against de Laura.

“They’re two different people. You don’t compare Caleb to Jayden,” Kelly said at Monday’s media availability. “(USC coach Lincoln Riley) runs a different scheme than (the one Arizona coach Jedd Fisch) runs, so our sole focus now is … (out defense) for what we’re going to do against USC.”

Slowing USC has been a difficult proposition for most opponents this season.

USC (9-1, 7-1) ranks third in the nation at 42.4 points per game. Despite a sluggish start against struggling Colorado last Friday in which their only points in the first quarter came on defense with a sack for a safety, the Trojans got it in gear to cruise to a 55-17 victory.

The 55 points were USC’s most since scoring 66 against Rice in the season opener and marked the Trojans’ fourth consecutive contest scoring at least 41 points.

Despite its offensive proficiency over that stretch, last week’s blowout was the first in USC’s last four games decided by more than a single-possession point margin. The Trojans dropped a 43-42 loss Oct. 15 at Utah for their only loss of the season, kept Arizona at bay in a 45-37 shootout on Oct. 29, and survived a late Cal rally in a 41-35 decision on Nov. 5.

Continuing to successfully navigate a narrow margin for error has USC in contention for both its third Pac-12 Championship Game appearance in six seasons, and the Trojans’ first-ever berth in the Playoff.

USC boasts its best record at this juncture in the season since 2008. Maintaining its current pace depends in part on limiting UCLA’s own prolific offense and quarterback Dorian Thompson-Robinson.

“He was impressive from the jump. He really was,” said Riley, who faced Thompson-Robinson in 2018 and 2019 while the head coach at Oklahoma.

“You could tell he had some real ability there at a young age. … A talented player like him and being coached by the guys that are coaching him, it’s no surprise that he has (improved).”

Thompson-Robinson passed for 349 yards with four touchdowns and rushed for another two scores in UCLA’s 62-33 win at USC last season.

A win on Saturday would keep alive the Bruins’ hope of appearing in their first Pac-12 Championship since 2012.

–Field Level Media

Nov 5, 2022; Los Angeles, California, USA; Southern California Trojans running back Travis Dye (26) is knocked out of bounds by California Golden Bears cornerback Tyson McWilliams (11) in the second half at United Airlines Field at Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

No. 9 USC fends off Cal behind Caleb Williams’ 5 TDs

Caleb Williams passed for four touchdowns and rushed for a fifth, and host No. 9 Southern Cal survived a second-half scare to outlast Pac-12 Conference counterpart Cal 41-35 Saturday in Los Angeles.

The Trojans (8-1, 6-1 Pac-12) extended their lead to 34-14 in the third quarter when Williams connected with Tahj Washington on an 8-yard touchdown pass. The game shifted quickly from there.

Cal (3-6, 1-5) responded with a 92-yard scoring drive, 47 of those yards coming on Jack Plummer’s touchdown pass to Mavin Anderson. Golden Bears coach Justin Wilcox opted for an onside-kick attempt following the score.

Michael Luckhurst’s placement up the middle worked as Cal recovered.

The Golden Bears cashed in on a touchdown in 10 plays, converting three third downs in the process. Plummer threw a 3-yard scoring strike to Jeremiah Hunter, pulling the Golden Bears to within a possession despite giving up a Nick Figueroa block on the ensuing extra-point kick.

Williams wasted no time responding, starting USC’s next drive with a 29-yard dime to a sliding Michael Jackson III. The Trojans moved 77 yards in a little more than three minutes, with Williams capping the drive on a short touchdown pass to Lake McRee.

The Golden Bears answered once more, this time converting both a third-and-10 and a fourth-and-2 before Jaydn Ott rushed in a goal-line touchdown. Plummer connected with Monroe Young for a successful 2-point conversion.

Cal forced a third down on the ensuing possession with a chance to regain possession, but Williams called his own number on the critical down and broke a 15-yard run that effectively sealed the win.

Williams finished 26-of-41 passing for 360 yards and carried seven times for 38 yards. Travis Dye finished with a game-high 98 yards on 15 carries and scored a touchdown.

Plummer went 35-of-49 passing for 406 yards and threw all three of his touchdown passes in the second half. Hunter led Cal with six catches for 102 yards.

Jackson caught five passes for USC and finished with a game-high 115 yards and two scores. Washington had seven receptions for 112 yards and the TD.

With the win, the Trojans matched their best start since 2008.

–Field Level Media

Oct 15, 2022; Salt Lake City, Utah, USA; USC Trojans quarterback Caleb Williams (13) runs against the Utah Utes in the first quarter at Rice-Eccles Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Rob Gray-USA TODAY Sports

No. 10 Southern California looks to return to win column vs. Arizona

No. 10 Southern California, after its bye week, will look to rev its offense against Arizona’s struggling defense Saturday in Tucson, Ariz.

The Trojans (6-1, 4-1 Pac-12) are averaging 40.4 points and 475.3 yards per game but still came up short their last time out, a 43-42 loss at Utah on Oct. 15. The Utes won on a touchdown and two-point conversion in the final minute.

“You get tested in a different way when you lose one, especially the way that one played out. It sends you one or two different ways,” USC coach Lincoln Riley said. “Everything I’ve seen of this team up to this point leads me to believe that we’ll handle it in a way that’ll bring us closer together and make us even better. Now we gotta go do it.”

Arizona (3-4, 1-3) also comes off a bye week, which resulted in freshman cornerback Ephesians Prysock, a one-time USC commit, earning more playing time, according to coach Jedd Fisch. The coach added that his defense might opt for more three-cornerback looks against the Trojans’ dynamic passing game.

USC’s Caleb Williams is averaging 281.6 passing yards per game, has a 19-1 touchdown-to-interception ratio and is the team’s second-leading rusher with 235 yards. Jordan Addison (39 catches, 585 yards, seven TDs) and Mario Williams (26, 493, 4) lead the receiving corps. Addison is considered day-to-day with a leg injury, Riley said Tuesday.

Arizona’s problems on defense stem from an inability to get into the backfield. The Wildcats are 128th nationally in tackles for loss (3.9 per game) and tied for 117th in sacks (1.29 per game).

Arizona, in its past two games (Washington, Oregon), failed to record a sack or a quarterback hurry. USC transfer end Hunter Echols leads the team with 3.5 sacks.

It could also be a big day for Trojans running back Travis Dye, who has 647 rushing yards and seven touchdowns, averaging 6.4 yards per carry. Arizona is tied for 121st against the run, yielding 207.4 yards per game.

But the Wildcats have their best offense in several years, starting with quarterback Jayden de Laura. He has passed for at least 400 yards in three of the past four games, and Fisch would like to see him use his legs even more.

“He’s not getting sacked very often. He’s making plays with his feet,” Fisch said. “He’s running around. He’s very hard to tackle, very slithery back there. And I love that.”

Unlike Williams, however, de Laura has been turnover-prone, including seven interceptions. USC has thrived with a plus-2.14 turnover margin per game, the best mark in the country.

Arizona’s strong receiving corps is led by Jacob Cowing, who has 53 catches for 737 yards and seven touchdowns.

“We’ve played a couple of other good sets (of receivers),” Riley said, “but these guys are definitely right there, if not the best.”

USC has won nine in a row in the series and 18 of 20 since the Wildcats let go of coach Dick Tomey after the 2000 season. Despite the Trojans’ two-decades dominance in the win column, the games often have been unusually close, with 11 of the past 15 meetings being decided by seven points or fewer.

–Field Level Media

Sep 3, 2022; Los Angeles, California, USA; Southern California Trojans quarterback Caleb Williams (13) reacts during the game against the Rice Owls at United Airlines Field at Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

No. 7 Trojans host dangerous Fresno State

Seventh-ranked USC returns home to Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum on Saturday for a nonconference game against Mountain West Conference favorite Fresno State.

The Trojans (2-0) continued to dazzle offensively early into first-year head coach Lincoln Riley’s tenure last week at Stanford — at least, in the first half.

USC scored five first-half touchdowns of the Pac-12 Conference opener but managed a pair of field goals in the second half against the Cardinal. It marked the second time in as many games that the Trojans did not have to punt until the fourth quarter of a blowout win.

Quarterback Caleb Williams went 20-for-27 for 341 yards with four more touchdown passes, giving him six for the season to go with the team’s five rushing touchdowns and three field goals. His performance earned Davey O’Brien National Quarterback of the Week.

Jordan Addison has four of those touchdown receptions among his 12 catches for an average of 113.0 yards a game.

The Trojans offense cooled off, however, and Stanford pushed around the USC defense for 221 yards on a 441-yard day of total offense. Yet, the SC defense stiffened in the red zone, forcing two turnovers inside the 3-yard line.

“The positives, I think, are pretty obvious on all sides,” Riley said Tuesday. “The errors where we’ve got to get better: Too many mental mistakes. Whether it’s a lack of focus, or a lack of complete trust in what we’re doing, that’s got to grow.

“And the reality is, I’ve had players (who) have been in our systems for multiple years and it’s still not 100 percent trust,” Riley added.

Fresno State (1-1) is no stranger to facing USC and higher-profile teams. The Bulldogs are 1-4 all-time against USC, but last season beat then-No. 13 UCLA (40-37), lost to then-No. 11 Oregon by a touchdown (31-24), and have won four of their past five games against ranked opponents.

This is Fresno State’s first visit to USC since 2019 when the Bulldogs lost the season opener to the Trojans, 31-23.

That season marked the end of Jeff Tedford’s first tenure as Fresno State head coach. Heart procedures prompted him to step down and after a year off he served last season as a consultant to coach Kalen DeBoer. When Washington hired DeBoer, Tedford returned to his old office as head coach of his alma mater.

The veteran Tedford led Cal when it forged a rivalry with USC in the mid-2000s, and then produced seasons of 10 and 12 wins (2017 and 2018) at Fresno State. Tedford’s reputation is well established on the West Coast, even for a regional newcomer such as Riley.

“Not many weaknesses,” Riley said of Fresno State. “They’re good everywhere.”

The Bulldogs opened 2022 with a rout of Cal Poly, 35-7, and last week lost a heartbreaker to Oregon State on the final play. On a night Fresno State’s Jake Haener passed for 360 yards and Jordan Mims rushed for 122 yards with two touchdowns, the Beavers scored from the 2-yard line as time expired for a 35-32 OSU victory.

With Haener leading one offense — coming off a breakout 2021 in which he passed for almost 4,100 yards with 33 touchdowns — and Caleb Williams captaining the other, the quarterbacks promise to occupy the spotlight on Saturday.

“The quarterback is really good at getting (the USC wide receivers) the football,” Tedford said of Williams. “He’s very poised. He can beat you with his legs, as well, when he pulls it down.”

Tedford praised Williams, Addison, and USC running back Travis Dye — all of whom Riley convinced to join him during the offseason.

“It’s a tough place to play,” Tedford said of the Coliseum. “It’ll be a great environment for our kids to go into, against a great football team.”

–Field Level Media