Keys to the Game: USC vs. Hawaii

By Chris Huston | College Football Writer

USC WILL WIN IF: USC's game plan is no secret. Heisman Trophy front runner Matt Barkley will distribute the ball early and often to wide receivers Robert Woods and Marqise Lee and let them work their magic. Hawai'i has no defenders who can cover those two one-on-one and, if the Warriors go with more defensive backs in the secondary to help out, the Trojans will gash them up the gut with tailbacks Curtis McNeal and Silas Redd.

The strength of the USC defense is its back seven, which means the Trojans may be perfectly suited to keep Hawai'i's passing attack at bay. Unless Hawai'i can somehow knock USC off its game plan on both sides of the ball, this game will be a major blowout. Keep in mind, USC has scored at least 49 points against Hawai'i in the last five meetings (and over 60 in four of them).

HAWAI'I WILL WIN IF: The only chance for Hawai'i to win this one is to somehow keep it close and then hope for USC to make some untimely mistakes. It will help if Duke transfer quarterback Sean Schroeder shows he has the know-how to execute Norm Chow's offense from the get-go. He won't be lacking in targets, as Billy Ray Stutzmann and Jeremiah Ostrowski are able wide outs.

The Warriors haven't emphasized the run much in recent years, but look for Chow to test the thin Trojan front four with some downhill running in the early going. The longer Hawaii can keep the ball away from USC and its stable of athletes, the better.

X-Factor: Norm Chow. Lane Kiffin's former mentor is in his first game as a head coach and in a venue very familiar to him, the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum. Kiffin and USC enter as 40.5-point favorites and they have the horses to run Hawai'i out of the stadium. However, Chow has a history of coming up with crafty game plans when least expected. If Hawai'i is to have any chance of pulling off an upset for the ages, it will require some major ingenuity by Chow. And a whole lot of luck.

 
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