Kessler, who also started the season opener against the Hawaii Warriors, has been battling Max Wittek for the starting job since fall camp, but USC coach Lane Kiffin has been unwilling to name a full-time starting quarterback. Kiffin said last week he had told his quarterbacks who would start on Saturday but would not reveal who it was publicly until game day.
"We do know who our starting quarterback is, so there's no reason to ask that every day," Kiffin told reporters last Sunday. "You guys will see Saturday who he is."
Kiffin, however, said he did not address his quarterback situation with his team but did give the starter the majority of reps during practices, which are closed to the media.
"I don't address them in that way," Kiffin said. "Just like I don't address them about who starts at running back or right corner. It's their job to play their position and do their job and they know that. They're not coaching, they're playing."
Last Thursday's season opener was Kessler's first collegiate start. He played the entire first half and the first drive of the second, completing 10 of 19 passes for 95 yards, with an interception and a touchdown pass. Wittek entered the game early in the third quarter. He didn't attempt a pass until his third drive and completed 5 of 10 passes for 77 yards.
Kiffin said he would not publicly name a quarterback before the game because he didn't want the media to scrutinize the players and his decision.
"I don't want people outside of here tearing them apart, up and down about this, that and the other," Kiffin said. "We're just moving along as a football team, getting ready to prepare for Washington State this week."
USC athletic director Pat Haden told ESPNLosAngeles.com before the season opener that USC could be rotating quarterbacks the first two weeks of the season but likely would choose a starting quarterback for the rest of the season after that.
"I don't think this is going to be a thing for the season," Haden said. "This is going to be decided here perhaps the first week, maybe the second week."