WR Marqise Lee (left) leads No. 25 USC against QB Derek Carr and No. 20 Fresno State in the Royal Purple Las Vegas Bowl (Saturday, 3:30 ET on ABC).
• Fresno State senior QB Derek Carr will cap his illustrious career in this game. He has a QBR of 83.9 this season, fourth in the FBS, behind only Jameis Winston, Marcus Mariota and Teddy Bridgewater.
Derek Carr This Season
Carr’s opponent-adjusted QBR takes a hit however (77.5, 19th in the FBS) because of the level of Fresno State’s competition.
• Carr has been sacked on only 1.8 percent of his passing plays, the lowest rate in the FBS. Fresno State has yielded 11 sacks this season and has attempted 620 passes.
• Carr shares a hometown with USC’s Cody Kessler, his opposing QB in this game. Both are from Bakersfield, CA (Carr was two years ahead of Kessler). “Cody and I are good friends,” Carr said. “We'll be trash-talking him and telling him to lighten up his defense.”
• This is only the third meeting between these schools and first since USC’s undefeated regular season of 2005. In November of that season, AP No. 1 USC beat No. 16 Fresno State, 50-42.
The Bulldogs came close to pulling off the upset, leading 42-41 in the fourth quarter. Reggie Bush ran for 294 yards and set a Pac-10 record with 513 all-purpose yards (the Trojans later vacated the win due to NCAA penalties).
The only other meeting came in the 1992 Freedom Bowl in Anaheim, CA. Fresno State and QB Trent Dilfer won, 24-7.
• These teams will open next season against one another. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, it will be just the seventh time that two teams met in a season opener after playing in a bowl game to end the previous season.
• Offensive coordinator Clay Helton will coach for USC in this game. He rounds out what has been a tumultuous year at USC’s head coaching position: Lane Kiffin started the season as coach, then Ed Orgeron took over as interim coach after Kiffin was fired.
Following the regular season, USC announced that Steve Sarkisian was hired as head coach and Orgeron decided to resign from the program.