USC Opens With Its Bowl Game First in Hawaii

This may not be a huge test for the Trojans, but it could be fun.

There will be no bowl game for USC at the end of the season. No trip to an exotic local (like Pasadena). No reward at the end of the season.

So why not have one to start? Like a trip to Hawaii.

USC was in Honolulu on Thursday, not on vacation but to start a season with question marks swirling around it. Can coach Lane Kiffin fill Pete Carroll's shoes. How will Matt Barkley do in his sophomore year as quarterback? Will the sanctions and controversy swirling around the program impact the team on the field?

Probably not this game.

USC's offense should put up a lot of points Thursday -- just like the last time Kiffin had a new job at USC and opened up against Hawaii. Back in 2005, he was to brand new co-offensive coordinator (along with now Washington head coach Steve Sarkisian) of an offense that had Matt Leinart at quarterback and Reggie Bush lined up behind him.

USC racked up 67 points that game. It may not be that many Thursday night but USC is a 21-point favorite in this game.

For the Trojan this is not a vacation, but it may feel like one after a long off-season -- they should be ready to take out their frustrations on someone. And this is still a very good USC team. They are ranked 14th in Associated Press poll and they are littered with highly recruited players at every position. It is a matter of getting the most out of them.

The biggest thing to watch is USC's defense. With Barkley and running back Marc Tyler behind him, USC's offense will score on nearly everyone.

But can Hawaii keep up. Can an offensive line with four new starters give quarterback Bryant Moniz enough time to find the Warriors best weapon, receiver Greg Salas. If so they might -- might -- be able to score with USC for a while and keep it interesting.

The real tests for USC come next month. How they handle those, and if they had ward off the kind of collapse that led to last season's 9-4 record remain to be seen.

But for fans who made the trip, this is USC's bowl. This is their vacation. This is their time for some fun.

Hopefully the USC players will feel like that when it is all over.

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