Look ahead at Thursday's USC game

A look ahead to Thursday night's involving teams in the Amway Coaches Poll:

No. 20 Texas A&M at No. 9 South Carolina

Time/TV: 6 p.m. ET/SEC. Surface: Grass.

Line: South Carolina by 10½. Sagarin difference: South Carolina by 0.59.

Synopsis: Though neither of these programs was present when the Southeastern Conference came into being, they are nevertheless fitting choices to kick off the new network's football coverage. Both programs had to bid farewell to franchise-type players and will thus be entering new territory themselves. The Aggies must move on without Johnny Manziel. But his successor, redshirt sophomore QB Kenny Hill, will at least not have to line up opposite former Gamecocks' standout DE Jadeveon Clowney. Hill's most experienced pass catcher is WR Malcome Kennedy, though there will be plenty of young talent to bolster the outside spots.

The South Carolina defense for its part could rely more on second-level guys such as LB Sharrod Golightly to keep spread attacks at bay. Gamecocks' QB Dylan Thompson will be a full-time starter for the first time, but he's taken more live reps than many of his SEC counterparts. He has a proven commodity in TB Mike Davis to ease his transition. S Howard Matthews is back to lead an experienced A&M secondary, but that unit must show improvement.

No.19 Mississippi vs. Boise State in Atlanta

Time/TV: 8 p.m. ET/ESPN. Surface: Artificial.

Line: Ole Miss by 10½. Sagarin difference: Ole Miss by 1.42.

Synopsis: The SEC West is as competitive as ever, but Ole Miss followers are hopeful the Rebels are ready to play with the big boys. There is all-star talent on both sides of the ball. Senior Bo Wallace is the conference's most accomplished returning QB, and he has proven targets in WR Laquon Treadwell and TE Evan Engram. The defensive front features DT Robert Nkemdiche and LB Serderius Bryant, who figure to cause plenty of trouble in opposing backfields.

But Boise State is accustomed to punching above its weight. Though the Broncos will be under new management after Chris Petersen's departure to Washington, they won't be shy on the big stage. They might be outmanned by an SEC roster, but Bryan Harsin doesn't inherit an empty cupboard,. QB Grant Hedrick and TB Jay Ajayi provide a solid foundation in the backfield, but some deep balls must connect if they are to negotiate that Ole Miss front. The Broncos' defense will be anchored by LB Ben Weaver.

Other TV games (times p.m. ET)

Matchup (Time/TV), Surface, Line, Sagarin difference

Eastern Illinois at Minnesota (7, BTN), Artificial, NA, Minnesota by 14.45

Wake Forest at Louisiana-Monroe (7, ESPNU), Artificial, ULM by 1, ULM by 0.06

Tulane at Tulsa (8, CBSSN), Artificial, Tulsa by 6½, Tulsa by 1.97

Temple at Vanderbilt (9:15, SEC), Artificial, Vandy by 13½, Vandy by 17.61

Rutgers at Washington State (10, FS1), Artificial, WSU by 8, WSU by 11.07

Lines furnished by Glantz-Culver.

Jeff Sagarin's power ratings show the relative strength of teams. Where applicable, 3.12 points were added to the home team's rating to calculate the difference.

GALLERY: PRESEASON AMWAY COACHES POLL

USA Today Sports staff picks:

Nicole Auerbach Paul Myerberg George Schroeder Erick
Smith
Eddie Timanus Dan
Uthman
Dan
Wolken
No. 1 Florida State vs. Okla. State Florida State Florida State Florida State Florida State Florida State Florida State Florida State
No. 2 Alabama vs. West Virginia Alabama Alabama Alabama Alabama Alabama Alabama Alabama
No. 3 Oklahoma vs. La. Tech Missouri Missouri Missouri Missouri Missouri Missouri Missouri
No. 4 Oregon vs. South Dakota Oregon Oregon Oregon Oregon Oregon Oregon Oregon
No. 5 Auburn vs. Arkansas Auburn Auburn Auburn Auburn Auburn Auburn Auburn
No. 6 Ohio State vs. Navy Ohio State Ohio State Ohio State Ohio State Ohio State Ohio State Ohio State
No. 7 UCLA at Virginia UCLA UCLA UCLA UCLA UCLA UCLA UCLA
No. 8 Michigan State vs. Jacksonville State Michigan State Michigan State Michigan State Michigan State Michigan State Michigan State Michigan State
No. 9 South Carolina vs. No. 20 Texas A&M South Carolina South Carolina South Carolina South Carolina South Carolina South Carolina South Carolina
No. 10 Baylor vs. SMU baylor baylor baylor baylor baylor baylor baylor
No. 11 Stanford vs. UC Davis Stanford Stanford Stanford Stanford Stanford Stanford Stanford
No. 12 Georgia vs. No. 16 Clemson Georgia Georgia Georgia Georgia Georgia Georgia Georgia
No. 13 LSU vs. No. 14 Wisconsin LSU LSU LSU LSU LSU LSU LSU
No. 15 Southern Calif. vs. Fresno State USC USC USC USC USC USC USC
No. 17 Notre Dame vs. Rice Notre Dame Notre Dame Notre Dame Notre Dame Notre Dame Notre Dame Notre Dame
No. 18 Arizona State vs. Weber State Arizona State Arizona State Arizona State Arizona State Arizona State Arizona State Arizona State
No. 19 Mississippi vs. Boise State Mississippi Mississippi Mississippi Mississippi Mississippi Boise State Mississippi
No. 21 Kansas State vs. Stephen F. Austin Kansas State Kansas State Kansas State Kansas State Kansas State Kansas State Kansas State
No. 22 Nebraska vs. Florida Atlantic Nebraska Nebraska Nebraska Nebraska Nebraska Nebraska Nebraska
No. 23 North Carolina vs. Liberty North Carolina North Carolina North Carolina North Carolina North Carolina North Carolina North Carolina
No. 24 Texas vs. North Texas texas texas texas texas texas texas texas
No. 25 Washington at Hawaii Washington Washington Washington Washington Washington Washington Washington
2013 record -- 217-48 222-43 224-41 220-45 216-49 217-48
Note: Picks are made straight up, not against the spread.
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