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Royal Purple Las Vegas Bowl 2013 Preview: Fresno St. Bulldogs vs. Southern Cal Trojans

Fresno State's promising season crashed and burned, while a season that was crashing and burning turned around for Southern Cal

Cary Edmondson-USA TODAY Sports

Royal Purple Las Vegas Bowl, Saturday, 3:30 p.m. ET, ABC

Suggested slogan: It's Vegas. Who cares if your team wins or loses?

The teams: Fresno St. Bulldogs and Southern Cal Trojans

How Fresno State got here: When its BCS busting bubble burst. The Bulldogs were in the fight for an at-large spot in the BCS when they lost to San Jose State in a game in which the Spartans gained 736 yards of total offense. Just think for a moment what would have happened if that defense ran into Baylor. It's a team that gives up a lot of yardage, especially through the air, but also throws the ball for a lot of yardage itself. The Bulldogs pass for an average of 490.8 yards a game -- tops in the FBS -- and boast a solid passing efficiency number to go along with it. Fresno also tends to do relatively well stopping teams on third and fourth down, though it's anyone's guess whether they're lucky or good in that respect.

How Southern Cal got here: Thanks to the magic of DACOACHO, who was summarily kicked to the curb by Western USC after engineering one of the great mid-season turnarounds in recent years. It's worth noting that the Trojans only faced three teams after Ed Orgeron took over that are currently ranked in at least one of the Top 25 polls, and he lost to two of them. But it's not like the season was going gangbusters before that, and Oregeron did compile 6-2 record to at least give the Trojans a palatable record. But, sure, that's the guy you fire. In any case, the calling card of the Trojans this year is defense; Southern Cal held eight of its opponents to fewer than 350 yards this year, but itself failed to cross that mark on offense in half of its games. Devon Kennard was a key player on the defense; the linebacker had 13.5 tackles for loss and nine sacks, including 8.5 of the TFL and six of the sacks after the Arizona State game that resulted in Kiffin's firing.

College football fans care because: There's the potential that Southern Cal could lose in embarrassing fashion, and who wants to miss that?

SEC fans care because: See above.

Watch this game if...: You want to find out what Royal Purple is.

Bottom line: The best guess is that Southern Cal is in a bit of disarray as it heads into a game with its third coach in as many months. Plus, the weak link in the Trojans' defense -- as much as one exists -- is in stopping the pass. Fresno State pulls out the win. Fresno State 31, Southern Cal 20

Line: Southern Cal by 6