Sam Darnold is off to the NFL and thus reigns in a new era of USC football with prized recruit JT Daniels taking the helm for the Trojans. Per usual, Southern Cal lost a lot of talented players to the NFL draft but as the tradition of the program goes – you don’t rebuild, you reload. That is evident in the NCAAF Week 1 Pac-12 free pick where USC is favored by -24.5 over UNLV – a Rebels team that has an explosive offense that is healthy coming into the season opener. Is nearly 30 points too much for the Trojans to give up as they work in new pieces – or is it nowhere near enough considering the pieces are all 4 and 5 star recruits?
UNLV Is Going Bowling This Season – They Think
Tony Sanchez has improved by one win in each of his three seasons with UNLV to a 5-7 record last year. Linear logic would mean that the team is on pace for 6-6 and just the 5th Bowl appearance in school history. If it weren’t for injuries, the Rebels probably would have gone bowling last year. Redshirt freshman QB Armani Rogers is healthy coming into the NCAAF Week 1 Pac-12 free pick after missing 3 games last year. RB Charles Williams was injured in the first game of last season after running for 93 yards on just 12 carries against Howard. In Williams’ absence, Lexington Thomas had 1300+ yards and 17 scores and both are ready to go against USC. 4 of the top 5 pass catchers are back as are 4 O-lineman with starting experience. This is no pushover for the Trojans defense.
The biggest question mark facing the Rebels today is if their defense can shut down the young but talented SC offense. This is a UNLV team that allowed 458 ypg last year (16th worst in the country). That includes giving up nearly 240 on the ground per game which was 122nd of 130 in the country. UNLV has a new DC, returns 4 of 6 lineman, 4 of 5 backers, and 6 of 9 DB’s but is still largely overmatched this afternoon.
2: Armani Rogers UNLV. Rogers showed out last year in his freshman year and I believe he has the ability to be something special. pic.twitter.com/53dmn23tGz
— Vinny (@CfbPower) August 26, 2018
All Eyes on Daniels in USC’s Opener
There are very few QB’s in the history of college football that come in with as much pedigree as today’s starter for USC, JT Daniels. The true freshman was a 4-year starter in high school at the illustrious Mater Dei and is fresh off being named the Gatorade National Male Athlete of the year this Summer. Who knows what to expect in Daniels’ first college start in the NCAAF Week 1 Pac-12 free pick but at least he’ll have a familiar face in fellow freshman and HS teammate Amon-Ra St. Brown. Tyler Vaughns and Michael Pittman, Jr. might be even better options in the passing game as they collected a combined 10.6 yards per target last season. All this through the air and RB Stephen Carr may be even better than Ronald Jones who is off to the NFL. Put it this way, OC Tee Martin definitely has options.
One area of concern this year for USC is their defense which lost a lot of talent. Uchenna Nwosu, Rasheem Green, and Josh Fatu are all off to the NFL but Chris Hawkins and Jack Jones also leave the secondary a bit thin after heading to JUCO. Prized recruits Jay Tufele and Marvin Tuipolo will be expected to contribute as freshman. Shoring up the front 7 will ease the SC secondary but hey – it’s USC, even their backups are blue-chippers.
I haven’t been this hyped for a USC to start in awhile, a lot of people are underestimating JT Daniels and this offense, defense will be special with Iman Marshall holding it down ✌️ #FightOn https://t.co/zfNdVppvJe
— lil espresso (@Andrewskii) September 1, 2018
NCAAF Week 1 Pac-12 Free Pick Betting
USC coach Clay Helton has a lot of toys at his offensive disposal but is facing some question marks on both sides of the ball. Nobody knows what to expect from Daniels under center, but he’s got so many weapons it’s hard not to succeed. UNLV has some offensive talent of their own and should be able to put up some yardage on the SC defense that faces a lot of loss. Today’s O/U is a skyscraper at 63.5, but with two dynamic offenses that ‘over’ should be achievable.
NCAAF Week 1 Pac-12 Free Pick – UNLV Rebels / USC Trojans *Over* 63.5