- Associated Press - Thursday, September 1, 2016

No. 20 USC (8-6 last season) vs No. 1 Alabama (14-1) in Arlington, Texas, 8 p.m. (ABC)

Line: Alabama by 11-1/2.

Series Record: Alabama leads 5-2.

WHAT’S AT STAKE

Defending national champion Alabama would like to show it’s the team to beat once again, and that the Crimson Tide’s new starting quarterback - either Cooper Bateman or Blake Barnett - is capable of leading the way. The Trojans, who have seven wins over No. 1 teams, could make a huge statement to open Clay Helton’s first full season. They’re targeting the program’s first Pac-12 title since 2008.

KEY MATCHUP

USC’s offensive line versus Alabama’s defensive front seven. The Trojans return all five starters but Chuma Edoga will start at left tackle instead of injured senior Chad Wheeler. They will face a deep group led by dangerous pass rushers Jonathan Allen and Tim Williams.

PLAYERS TO WATCH

USC: WR JuJu Smith-Schuster is coming off a huge season with 89 catches for 1,454 yards and 10 touchdowns. He’ll lead a deep receiving corps for QB Max Browne that faces a talented Tide secondary led by S Eddie Jackson and CBs Minkah Fitzpatrick and Marlon Humphrey.

Alabama: RBs Bo Scarbrough and Damien Harris take over for the departed Heisman Trophy winner Derrick Henry. They had a combined 261 rushing yards as freshmen but are former five-star recruits who need to take the pressure off the Tide’s quarterback early in the season.

FACTS & FIGURES

It’s the first meeting between these teams since 1985. … USC has won its past 17 openers, and Alabama owns a 14-year streak of its own. … Alabama offensive coordinator Lane Kiffin is a former USC assistant and head coach who has coached 19 current Trojans. USC offensive line coach Neil Callaway played on Bear Bryant’s Alabama team that beat the top-ranked Trojans 21-20 in 1977. … The quarterbacks - USC’s Browne and Alabama’s combo of Bateman/Barnett - have thrown a combined 71 collegiate passes. Barnett hasn’t played in a game. … Alabama twice played in Arlington last season, beating Wisconsin in the opener and Michigan State in the playoff semifinals.

___

AP college football website: www.collegefootball.ap.org

LOAD COMMENTS ()

 

Click to Read More

Click to Hide