LOS ANGELES – Lincoln Riley will make his debut as USC’s football coach Saturday when the Trojans face Rice at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum to open the season.
Riley was hired Nov. 28 after posting a 55-10 record in five seasons as Oklahoma’s coach, including winning Big 12 Conference championships in each of his first four seasons. Riley filled the vacancy created when Clay Helton was fired two games into the 2021 season.
Riley will be coaching what he has called, “the most unique roster in the history of USC football,” with 24 transfers, including quarterback Caleb Williams, who played for Riley at Oklahoma last season, and Jordan Addison, the 2021 Biletnikoff Award winner as the college football’s top receiver, for catching a school-record 100 passes for Pittsburgh.
Other notable transfers include running back Travis Dye, who rushed for 3,111 yards in four seasons at Oregon, the fifth-highest total in school history, former Oklahoma receiver Mario Williams and former Alabama linebacker Shane Lee.
Caleb Williams and Mario Williams, who are not related, were both selected by ESPN as true freshman All-Americans for the 2021 season.
The Trojans had the nation’s No. 1-ranked transfer class.
USC returns 71 players, including 37 lettermen and eight starters from last year’s team which was 4-8, losing six of its final seven games.
Rice was also 4-8 in 2021 and has 47 returning lettermen, including 13 starters.
The Trojans are 14th in The Associated Press media poll. The Owls are unranked.
Oddsmakers have made USC a 32-1/2-point favorite. ESPN’s Football Power Index gives the Trojans a 96.1% chance of winning.
The Trojans have won their last 15 season openers in the Coliseum, dating back to 1997, although one victory was vacated due to NCAA penalty.
Rice offensive coordinator Marques Tuiasosopo was USC’s associate head coach for offense and the tight ends coach in 2014 and 2015.
Punter Charlie Mendes (Harvard-Westlake School) and backup quarterback T.J. McMahon (Servite High/Cerritos College) are among six Owls from Southern California, along with tight end Boden Groen (Mater Dei High/Saddleback College), defensive back Miles McCord (Sage Hill High/Golden West College), cornerback Lamont Narcisse (Calabasas High) and offensive lineman Faae Pepe (Orange Lutheran).
This will be the first meeting between the teams since 1971. USC leads the series, 2-0-1.
There will be a pregame celebration of the life of Los Angeles Dodgers broadcaster Vin Scully, who died Aug. 2 at age 94.
The 3 p.m. game will be televised by the Pac-12 Network and through the Pac-12 Now app, available on Apple TV, Amazon Fire TV, as well as for iOS or Android devices or on Pac-12.com/now.