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USC Football: Trojans' 6 Most Likely Bowl Opponents

Rick McMahanSenior Writer INovember 3, 2013

USC Football: Trojans' 6 Most Likely Bowl Opponents

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    Steve Dykes/Getty Images

    Oh, what a difference a week makes.

    With USC's convincing 31-14 victory over then 6-2 Oregon State on the road Friday evening, the Trojans have all of a sudden made people sit up and take notice.

    Now 6-3, the men of Troy are 3-2 in the Pac-12's southern conference and are ready to make some noise as they position themselves for a postseason bowl berth

    How the Trojans finish this season will determine which bowl game they participate in and who that opponent will be.

    This slideshow will look at some of these possible scenarios based on the predictions of the leading prognosticators in college football.

    Now that USC is playing well and under a full head of steam, here is a look at what may lay ahead for the Cardinal and Gold in the postseason.

San Jose State

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    David Fales
    David FalesThearon W. Henderson/Getty Images

    Both CBS Sports.com and NationalFootballPost.com have USC playing San Jose State in the New Mexico Bowl on December 21st in Albuquerque, NM.

    Sporting a 5-3 record so far in the Mountain West Conference, the Spartans are a somewhat passing-heavy team led by quarterback David Fales, who has thrown for over 2400 yards and 17 touchdowns.

    As of right now, the Spartans are in second place in the western section of the conference, so it remains to be seen if they wind up in the No. 4 slot in the MWC, which is where its representative must be to play in this bowl.

University of Nevada at Las Vegas

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    Running Back Tim Cornett
    Running Back Tim CornettEthan Miller/Getty Images

    Depending on the prognosticator, USC could be playing UNLV in the Las Vegas Bowl (according to Scout.com) or the New Mexico Bowl (SB Nation.com).

    Either way, USC would face a balanced Rebel team that finds itself with a 5-4 record in the western portion of the Mountain West Conference after losing this week to San Jose State 34-24.

    While UNLV is balanced on offense, it is ineffective on the defensive side of the ball as it is ranked 106th in the nation in points allowed, surrendering an average of 34.5 per contest.

Fresno State

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    Derek Carr
    Derek CarrOtto Kitsinger III/Getty Images

    A website called CollegeSportsMadness.com has USC as the No. 5 seed playing the No. 1 seed from the MWC, Fresno State, in the Las Vegas Bowl.

    If so, the Trojans get a Bulldog team that is currently ranked 16th in the nation and is 8-0 after beating Nevada Saturday evening.

    Led by quarterback Derek Carr, who is averaging 367 yards through the air in 2013, Fresno State is a legitimate BCS buster, which makes this matchup very unlikely.

    Which is a good thing because this is one guy USC's secondary does not want to see.

Boise State

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    Joe Southwick
    Joe SouthwickOtto Greule Jr/Getty Images

    From PhilSteele.com, we find his prediction that the Trojans will be be playing Boise State in the Las Vegas Bowl.

    If that happens, the Trojans will face a balanced team that finds Boise State nationally ranked 23rd in the rushing game and 31st passing.

    At 6-3, Chris Peterson's Broncos aren't the BCS busters they usually are, but they will still represent a challenge for USC should this contest become reality.

    One other thing to consider: Quarterback Joe Southwick is one of the nation's most accurate passers at over 72 percent, so USC's secondary will be tested.

Brigham Young University

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    Taysom Hill
    Taysom HillGeorge Frey/Getty Images

    The last website prediction for a postseason bowl has Brad Edwards of ESPN.com suggesting that USC will play the Cougars of BYU in the Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl.

    BYU features a 1000-plus-yard running quarterback in Taysom Hill, and while he is not the most accurate passer, Hill has still thrown for over 2000 yards and 12 touchdowns.

    As dangerous as the Cougars are offensively, they may be even better on the defensive side of the ball as they are ranked 27th nationally giving up only 21 points per game.

    At 6-2 right now, BYU will present a major challenge should USC wind up playing them as Edwards suggests.

Virginia Tech

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    Logan Thomas
    Logan ThomasKevin C. Cox/Getty Images

    You won't find this one on a website that offers predictions, but remember, you read it here first.

    I am going to go out on a limb and predict that USC finishes this season at 9-4 and winds up—oh the irony—in the Sun Bowl, where they will play the Hokies of Virginia Tech.

    Despite their loss Saturday to Boston College, the Hokies are 6-3 and offer one of the best defenses in the nation, where they are currently ranked eighth nationally in points allowed. 

    Virginia Tech also offers one of the nation's top quarterbacks in Logan Thomas, the 6'6", 257-pound gun slinger who is the closest one gets to finding the college version of Ben Roethlisberger.

    Fortune will smile on the Trojans as they get to make amends for last year's Sun Bowl debacle against Georgia Tech.

    Sweet, eh?

Conclusion

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    Stephen Dunn/Getty Images

    Really, like preseason polls, predicting who will play in many of these postseason bowls is truly an exercise in futility.

    Nonetheless, an improving Trojan team now finds its fanbase dreaming big as USC enters the stretch run of the 2013 college football season.

    In reality, USC could end up 6-7, 10-3 or anywhere in between. As such, a plus-.500 record could find the men of Troy playing literally anywhere, including a BCS bowl should they run the table and win the Pac-12 title.

    Of course, in that scenario, everything would have to break just perfectly for the Trojans, including having southern conference leader Arizona State take a major face plant.

    But since we are dreaming, we might as well dream big, right?

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