USC last played Fresno State in 2005, when the Bulldogs nearly defeated… (Wally Skalij / Los Angeles…)
USC, which lost to Fresno State in the 1992 Freedom Bowl and was nearly defeated by the Bulldogs in 2005 at the Coliseum, will play Fresno State in 2014, the schools announced Monday.
The game is scheduled for Aug. 30, the Trojans' season opener unless another game is moved. Boston College and Notre Dame are other nonconference opponents in 2014.
USC Coach Lane Kiffin was a reserve quarterback at Fresno State in the mid-1990s and served as a student assistant coach for the Bulldogs.
"It is a quality in-state opponent with a traditionally strong program," Kiffin said in a statement. "The games between the teams in the past have been very competitive and have attracted lots of fans from both sides."
Fresno State upset USC, 24-7, in the Freedom Bowl, which ended Larry Smith's tenure as coach of the Trojans and spurred the return of John Robinson.
In 2005, USC trailed, 42-41, in the fourth quarter before LenDale White scored on a short run and Mario Danelo kicked a field goal for a 50-42 victory. Reggie Bush finished the game with 513 all-purpose yards.
Fresno State, of the Mountain West Conference, is 2-2 this season. The Bulldogs are 1-1 against Pac-12 Conference teams — a 42-25 loss at Oregon and a 69-14 victory over Colorado.
Former USC All-American safety Tim McDonald, the father of USC safety T.J. McDonald and UCLA safety Tevin McDonald, is in his first season as an assistant at Fresno State.
Kiffin welcomed the break that this week's open date affords his players.
T.J. McDonald would probably prefer to keep playing.
USC limited California to three field goals in last week's 27-9 victory at the Coliseum.
McDonald came up with the key defensive play, intercepting a pass that ended the Golden Bears' third trip inside the 20-yard line during the third quarter.
"Now, we've just got to work on not letting them get to the red zone," said McDonald, who has seven career interceptions. "As long as we just keep picking it up, tackling and not giving up the big play, we'll be in good shape."
USC will practice three times this week and attempt to nurse injured players to full strength as it prepares for an Oct. 4 game at Utah. Trojans coaches also will use the time for recruiting.
Meantime, Utah will try to rebound from last week's loss to Arizona State. The Utes are 2-2 overall and 0-1 in the Pac-12 Conference after the 37-7 defeat.
"It really was no contest," Utah Coach Kyle Whittingham said Monday during a news conference. "We've got a lot of work to do this week."
Utah has not played up to preseason expectations.
The Utes have averaged only 298.3 yards per game, which ranks 112th among 120 major-college teams. They are 100th in pass offense (190.8 yards per game) and 107th in rushing offense (107.5 ypg.).
"We are probably playing the most talented team in the conference in USC," Whittingham said. "They have talent throughout the roster and we've got to respond.
"We find out what we're made of this week and what kind of resiliency we have. In the past we've done a pretty good job with that, and we'll see if we can do it again."