Continuing their conference success from the previous season which saw them finish 7–1 and sharing their conference title with Boise State, the Bulldogs did even better in the 2013 season. Already having won the Mountain West Conference's West Division championship, the Bulldogs went on to win the first Mountain West Conference Championship Game, defeating Utah State by a score of 24–17, advancing to the Las Vegas Bowl by virtue of their victory.
This will be the Bulldogs' second Las Vegas Bowl; they had previously made the bowl in 1999, losing to the Utah Utes by a last-second field goal for a score of 17–16.
The season was tumultous by USC standards, having seen head coach Lane Kiffin fired five games into the season, and then interim head coach Ed Orgeron resigning at season's end (Clay Helton will serve as interim coach for the bowl game while Steve Sarkisian takes over for the 2014 season). Nonetheless, the Trojans still managed a 6–3 conference and 9–4 overall record (tied with the rival UCLA Bruins for second in the Pac-12 South Division), leading them to the Las Vegas Bowl at season's end.
This will be USC's second Las Vegas Bowl; they had previously made the bowl in 2001, losing to future conference foe the Utah Utes by a a score of 10–6.