In a matchup of a high-octane offense against a suspect defense, the second-ranked USC Trojans travel east to face the Syracuse Orange at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, N.J. on Saturday.
Syracuse's defense conceded 28 points to the Northwestern offense last week, and will have a tougher test against a Trojans' offense that boasts perhaps multiple Heisman Trophy candidates.
Against Hawaii, quarterback Matt Barkley completed 23 passes on 38 attempts for 372 yards and four touchdowns. The senior mainly targeted Marqise Lee, who USC head coach Lane Kiffin has praised as potentially the best wide receiver to ever play for the Trojans.
When Barkley isn't looking for Lee, he could turn to junior wide out Robert Woods, who had 111 receptions for 1,292 yards and 15 touchdowns in 2011. The speedy Woods had two touchdown receptions against Hawaii.
The Syracuse defense conceded 213 passing yards to Northwestern, and didn't intercept one pass on 32 attempts. The unit will have a tough challenge in containing running backs Silas Redd and Curtis McNeal, but the secondary may have to be in top form to not allow Barkley to hit his talented receiving corp.
The Orange have a decent passing attack, as well. Quarterback Ryan Nassib has been a starter for three-straight years and is coming off an excellent effort against Northwestern. The senior completed 44 passes on 65 attempts for 470 yards and four touchdowns.
Nassib will likely know where Marcus Sales is at all times. The senior wide receiver caught 11 passes in the season opener, but Nassib completed passes to eight other receivers. The Syracuse offense could pose a complicated threat to a USC defense that gave up 208 passing yards to a Hawaii quarterback who had never thrown a pass in college football.
Nassib may also have Alex Lemon on his radar. The senior wide receiver was sidelined against Northwestern, but is expected to play against USC.
Defensive coordinator Monte Kiffin's defense were sharp against Hawaii, and will get a boost against Syracuse. The Trojans return middle linebacker Lamar Dawson and cornerback Torin Harris.
The game starts at 3:30 eastern time, and will be broadcast on ABC/ESPN2, and can be viewed on line at the viewer's discretion here.
LINE: USC is favored by 26.5 points
PREDICTION: Syracuse has a shorter distance to travel, but USC is clearly the more talented team. The Trojans have defensive depth, and Barkley should be hungry to have a spectacular game. Expect the Trojans to roll, but the Orange offense should not be underestimated.
PREDICTED SCORE: USC over Syracuse, 45-17