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Line: USC by 41.

Series Record: USC leads 7-0

WHAT’S AT STAKE

USC returns from its two-year postseason ban to begin a season of sky-high expectations. Trojans QB Matt Barkley leads an impressive array of offensive skill players, including WRs Robert Woods and Marqise Lee, into a sold-out Coliseum full of fans expecting USC to return to the top this fall. Rebuilding Hawaii makes its debut under new coach Norm Chow, the Trojans’ former offensive coordinator.

KEY MATCHUP

RBs Silas Redd and Curtis McNeal vs. Hawaii’s defensive line. Redd transferred from Penn State to join the relentless McNeal, giving the Trojans two 1,000-yard rushers. USC coach Lane Kiffin will give extensive playing time to both tailbacks against Hawaii’s defense, which must replace three starters from last season’s line.

PLAYERS TO WATCH

Hawaii: QB Sean Schroeder. The Duke transfer won the Warriors’ starting job after just three practices under Chow, a coach who knows a few things about spotting top quarterback talent. The Dana Hills, Calif., product graduated from Duke in three years, but didn’t play. He’ll test USC’s possibly problematic secondary with several experienced receivers as Chow replaces Hawaii’s spread offense with a prostyle set.

USC: S T.J. McDonald. The other No. 7 who decided to return to USC for his senior season. McDonald is the leader of a still-young defense that improved remarkably late last season, but must replace much of its starting defensive line.

FACTS & FIGURES

Chow is making his head coaching debut in his 40th year in college coaching. … The schools are opening their season against each other for the fourth time since 1999, and they’ll do it again at Aloha Stadium next year. … USC has won 14 straight season openers. … Hawaii begins its first season in the Mountain West after 33 years in the WAC. … Former USC LB Junior Seau will be memorialized before the game. … USC is the AP’s No. 1 team for the first time since Sept. 2008. … Hawaii is playing a No. 1 team for the third time in school history.

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No. 2 Alabama vs. No. 8 Michigan at Arlington, Texas, 8 p.m. (ABC)

Line: Alabama by 13 1/2.

Series Record: Michigan leads 2-1.

Story Continues →