Breaking down USC's 2013 schedule

Morgan Breslin and the Trojans will travel to Cal on Nov. 9 in what could be a crucial Pac-12 showdown. Kirby Lee/Image of Sport/US Presswire

As the calendar turns to June, tthe start of the 2013 season gets closer, so it’s time to take an in-depth look at how the schedule plays out for the Trojans.

Aug. 29 at Hawaii: There aren’t too many better ways to open the season than with a trip to Oahu against a Hawaii team that shouldn’t pose too much of a problem. USC fans get to spend a few days in the shadow of Diamond Head while Lane Kiffin and his team get an opportunity to work out any kinks in an opener without Matt Barkley at quarterback for the first time since 2008.

Sept. 7 vs. Washington State: The home opener for the Trojans comes against the Cougars and figures to be another USC victory. Mike Leach was hired last year at WSU with hopes of bringing his high-powered offensive attack to the Palouse, but he just doesn’t have the personnel yet to put things together. Here’s guessing he won’t have it by the time he visits the Coliseum, either.

Sept. 14 vs. Boston College: The Eagles come to the Coliseum with new coach Steve Addazio. It will be the first matchup between these two teams since the 2009 Emerald Bowl, a largely forgettable game that was the last USC coaching appearance by Pete Carroll. It could also be a game that will start to reveal the identity of this year’s USC team.

Sept. 21 vs Utah State: This is the third home game in a row for the Trojans against a team they will be expected to beat. The Aggies will also be breaking in a new coach and there are plenty of USC fans who expect their team to be undefeated by the time this game is over.

Sept. 28 at Arizona State: This is when things get interesting. By this point, the Trojans should be fairly settled and will travel to Tempe to face a Sun Devils team that is projected to be one of the favorites for the Pac-12 South title. The atmosphere will be wild, and it’s the first of a three-game set that will be very telling about USC's future prospects in 2013.

Oct. 10 vs Arizona: The Trojans will have a bye week following the ASU game and then will play in a rare Thursday night home game against the Wildcats. Rich Rodriguez will be breaking in a new quarterback, but he also returns one of the leading tailbacks in the nation in Ka’deem Carey. The Trojans only have to look back at last year’s loss in Tucson to know how scary this opponent can be.

Oct. 19 at Notre Dame: USC travels to South Bend in the renewal of this classic rivalry for a game that could be as pivotal as any this year. The Irish have scheduled this for a night time match-up for the second USC visit in a row and that always adds to the excitement. Brian Kelly had his team in the national title game last year but now he must deal with the reality of losing his starting quarterback, Everett Golson. This should be a dandy as always.

Oct. 26 vs. Utah: After that three-game gauntlet, the Trojans return home to face Utah, and they should be heavily favored. Be careful. On paper this one may not seem like much, but the Utes are always capable of playing tougher than expected.

Nov. 1 at Oregon State: This game is being played the day after Halloween and that is appropriate considering trips to Corvallis have been a house of horrors for USC in recent years. It’s also a Friday night game, which means a short week of preparation, and Kiffin will need to make sure his players understand what can happen when the Trojans face the Beavers in their house.

Nov. 9 at Cal: It will be the first trip for USC to the remodeled Memorial Stadium, and the stadium isn’t the only thing different, as Cal will have a new coach in place for the visit. Sonny Dykes brings his wide-open offense to the Bears and they will face a USC defense that is run by Clancy Pendergast, who spent the past three years as defensive coordinator at Cal.

Nov. 16 vs. Stanford: The Trojans aren’t used to having four-game losing streaks against the Cardinal, nor are they used to Stanford being the team with a bigger reputation for playing physical football. Kiffin has stated he wants the Trojans to improve in that area, and there will be no bigger test of where his program stands than this game.

Nov. 23 at Colorado: It figures to be cold in Boulder for this late November game, but that will likely be the most formidable obstacle the Trojans face in this one. The Buffaloes are another team with a first-year coach, and Mike MacIntyre inherits a roster that doesn’t look to be able to keep up with the Trojans just yet.

Nov. 30 vs. UCLA: Are you ready for this one? Consider the possibility of the Trojans and Bruins meeting with a berth in the conference title game on the line, in addition to all the other revelry that is associated with this classic crosstown rivalry. Jim Mora and the Bruins will be looking to prove that the 2012 victory over the Trojans wasn’t a fluke, while Kiffin and company will be looking to show that it was.