2021 Game 1: USC Football vs. San José State
San Jose State Spartans (1-0) at No. 15 USC Trojans (0-0)
United Airlines Field at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum at 2 p.m. PT on Pac-12 Network
Spartan to Watch: Senior DE Cade Hall
As USC breaks in two redshirt freshmen tackles, Hall provides a tough test on opening day. In a condensed 2020 season, he earned All-American honors, becoming the Spartans' first defensive lineman in eight years to do so. The Mountain West Defensive Player of the Year tied for second nationally with 10 sacks in only 7 games. He is an experienced veteran with 27 starts coming into his senior season.
Respect the Opponent
San Jose State has the reputation of a doormat program, but things have changed. The Spartans are extremely well coached under Brent Brennan who led them to a 7-0 regular season last year and a Mountain West Championship. Yes, the Trojans are favored and expected to win, but they will have to work for it. The Spartans have the advantage of playing in week zero, so they already shook off the rust and will be thinking program-changing upset in the Coliseum with 19 starters returning.
Tower of London
Drake London led USC in receiving last season and that was with Amon-Ra St. Brown and Tyler Vaughns on the team. Now a junior and recently voted team captain, he will be the center of the Trojans' offense as Kedon Slovis works to develop a rapport with the new targets. While USC will ultimately need to establish second, third and fourth options in the passing game, expect London to eat early and often during the opening game.
SJSU QB Nick Starkel is a Power 5 caliber talent, having played in the SEC for Texas A&M and Arkansas. He passed for over 2,000 yards in 8 games last season, including 17 touchdowns. To make him uncomfortable, USC DC Todd Orlando will want to unleash his pass rush, which was good last season (2nd in the Pac-12 in sacks) and should be even better this season. Drake Jackson is a projected NFL first round pick, while Nick Figueroa led the team with 3.5 sacks in 2020. Tuli Tuipulotu earned Freshman All-American second team honors, and Korey Foreman arrives with the tag of nation's No. 1 recruit. This group has the talent to wreck games up front.