Associated Press: USC-Hawaii Preview

Rainbow Warriors Football
Rainbow Warriors Football

No. 24 USC at Hawaii, Aloha Stadium kickoff at 5 p.m.

CBS Sports Network

  • Oceanic Time Warner Cable 247/1247
  • Hawaiian Telcom 83/1083
  • Dish 158

Line: USC by 23.

WHAT’S AT STAKE:

Likely USC’s season and a meteoric start for Hawaii in the unlikely event the Trojans lose. More likely, USC’s starting quarterback job and little for Hawaii, which received the fewest votes and was picked to finish last in the Mountain West Conference’s West Division. USC coach Lane Kiffin has not named a starting quarterback through the preseason, or even a nominal starter for the opening game. Sophomores Max Wittek and Cody Kessler are expected to split time, though it’s not clear beyond USC’s locker room who will take the first snaps. Second-year Hawaii coach Norm Chow wants to progress from his team’s 3-9 finish last year, but as a heavy underdog the Rainbow Warriors will likely need to find silver linings in their execution.

KEY MATCHUP:

USC receiver Marqise Lee against Hawaii cornerbacks Dee Maggitt and Ne’Quan Phillips. Lee is considered one of the top wideouts in the country, if not the best — a possible Heisman Trophy candidate if he has another spectacular statistical season and can lead USC to a bounceback year. Lee was fourth in last year’s Heisman voting after finishing with 118 catches, 1,721 yards and 14 touchdowns. Phillips made five starts at cornerback last year, finishing with 25 tackles, two interceptions and a fumble recovery.

PLAYERS TO WATCH:

USC: Wittek started the Trojans’ last two games of 2012 in place of injured Matt Barkley. But despite being the most experienced quarterback on the roster, Wittek didn’t do enough to distinguish himself from Kessler during the preseason to be named the starter. Kessler has been strong the last month in camp, proving to be mobile and resourceful.

Hawaii: QB Taylor Graham, a junior transfer from Ohio State who hasn’t started a game since he was in high school in 2009. Graham is the son of Kent Graham, who was a quarterback for the New York Giants and Pittsburgh Steelers and played 11 years in the NFL.

FACTS & FIGURES:

USC is undefeated in eight games against Hawaii, scoring 60 or more points in three of the contests. … Chow was offensive coordinator for USC for four years, including in 2003 and 2004 when the Trojans won national championships. … Lane Kiffin’s first win as USC coach was at Hawaii in 2010, his Trojans debut. … Hawaii has 28 players from California, while the Trojans have two players from Hawaii. … The Rainbow Warriors ranked 11th nationally in 2012 in passing defense with 182.8 yards per game. … USC has never previously appeared on the CBS Sports Network.

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