The hottest seat in college football will be on the visitor's sideline in Aloha Stadium, when Lane Kiffin and the USC Trojans head to Honolulu to kick off their 2013 season.
In 2012, Kiffin's squad, led by Matt Barkley and a pair of stud receivers in Robert Woods and Marqise Lee, entered the season opener against Hawaii as the No. 1 team in the country. The Trojans blew the doors off the Warriors, winning 49-10. It was a massacre: USC led 35-0 at the half, and only by that little because Kiffin outdid himself by attempting three two-point conversions in a game that wasn't close.
But pride goes before the fall, and USC ended up unranked, 7-6 after a loss to Georgia Tech in the Sun Bowl. Now, Kiffin's job is on the line.
USC will be expected to win by a lot in Week 1, facing off against a Hawaii team that went 3-9 and finished at the bottom of the Mountain West last year. But there are questions. There's uncertainty at quarterback, with Max Wittek and Cody Kessler both supposed to see the field. There are questions on defense, after losing high-scoring affairs against Arizona, Oregon and UCLA last year. And Norm Chow's squad could be peppier in Year 2.
So there's no guarantee of a rout, and if things get interesting, there are vultures waiting to circle around Kiffin. (Of course, Hawaii was very bad last year and that could be compounded by the fact that Chow fired his offensive coordinator the day before fall camp, but who knows.)
Rankings and records: USC finds itself at No. 24 in both the AP and USA Today Coaches polls, because you can't not rank USC, right? That still puts them behind Oregon, Stanford and crosstown rival UCLA in the Pac-12, so it's not like Trojans fans are thrilled with being in the poll. USC and Hawaii have played eight times, and unsurprisingly, the Warriors have lost all eight.
Vegas: The Trojans are 23.5-point favorites. They've cleared that in six of the eight matchups against Hawaii, including last year's 49-10 blowout in LA. The Warriors did make it reasonable in 2010 at Aloha Stadium, a 49-36 USC win.
Weather: It's Hawaii.
Two names to know
Marqise Lee: Last year's Biletnikoff winner had 197 yards receiving, a 75-yard touchdown on the first play from scrimmage, and a 100-yard kickoff return for touchdown in last year's drubbing, so Hawaii has demonstrated it has issues stopping him. Now, he'll be forced into a bigger role in USC's offense with Robert Woods off to the NFL. Will USC be more inventive than just lobbing it towards the hyper-dynamic 6-footer? Will it need to against Hawaii?
Cody Kessler: Kessler didn't line up under center much last season, but he'll have a chance to prove himself this year. Ranked the No. 4 pro-style quarterback in the class of 2011 by 247's composite, Kessler is expected to play, if not start, the opener. If he doesn't start, the honor goes to Wittek, who replaced Barkley after late-year injuries in 2012.
Two things at stake
1. Kiffykins: If last year is how a year when the Trojans were supposed to be the best team in the country went, what happens when USC is expected to be just a regular football team? Suffice it to say, many think Kiffin's tenure in Los Angeles might be nearing a close. It'll be tough to get a read on the Trojans after one week, especially since they're expected to once again roll in Week 1. But if they struggle against the Warriors, you'll hear about Kiffin's job security. If USC somehow lost, expect 75 percent of SoCal media to call for his ouster by the time the plane touches the tarmac of LAX.
2. Hawaii 5-0: In eight matchups against Hawaii, USC has scored an average of 49.38 points, including last year's 49-10 win last year. Last year Hawaii was 107th in the nation in scoring defense, allowing 35.7 points per game. USC wasn't spectacular defensively last year, so it'll need to be able to score some points, but with a new quarterback -- quarterbacks? -- and Robert Woods gone, who knows if the offense will be as productive as it was last year with Matt Barkley under center. Let's call 50 points a successful game, and anything below Hawaii's average from last year a bummer.
How to witness
TV: Ahhhhh, yes, the first Hawaii time game of the year. This one kicks off at 11 p.m. Eastern time -- that's 8 p.m. in LA, 5 p.m. in Honolulu -- Thursday night on the CBS Sports Network.
Radio: In Los Angeles, ESPN 710 will air the game, while in Hawaii, 1420 ESPN will have the game in Honolulu.
Online streaming: The game will be streamed on the CBS Sports Network's website.