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Arizona vs. USC pac-12 Pick with Analysis

10/1/11

USC hosts Arizona on Saturday night in a PAC-12 match up. USC comes into the game 3-1 overall and 1-1 in conference play while Arizona comes in at 1-3 overall and 0-2 in conference play. USC is a double digit -14 point favorite at some shops while dropping to -13.5 at others as this is being written on Tuesday afternoon.

What we need to figure out here, when handicapping this game, is, are the USC Trojans deserving of being a double digit favorite here? Or, is this line more a perception of what USC used to be, rather than what they are now, combined with the fact that Arizona is 1-3 and has been blown out in their 3 losses?

Let's consider Arizona first. After opening with a 41-10 win over Northern Arizona, they played 3 consecutive games against top 10 opponents and those 3 also happened to be among the most prolific offensive machines in all of College football, Oklahoma State, Stanford and Oregon. These are teams that routinely put up big numbers on just about any team they play.

They had their moments against those 3 top 10 teams. They trailed Stanford 16-10 at the half. They mounted a comeback against Oregon after trailing 31-3, all the way back to 31-24 before being overwhelmed by the Oregon depth, and they played Oklahoma State close in the 2nd half, losing the 2nd half 16-14. Point being, they aren't completely inept. Lack of depth? Yes. Overwhelmed? Yes. Incapable? No.

USC meanwhile started 3-0 with wins over Minnesota, Utah and Syracuse, all at home, before losing to Arizona State 43-22. Credit to USC for  at least playing BCS opponents early on, unlike other high profile programs who kick off their year with 2 or 3 games against programs most have never heard of when it comes to football.

USC beat Minnesota 19-17 and could have easily lost. Since that game, Minnesota went on to lose games to New Mexico State and North Dakota State, with their lone win being a 29-23 win over Miami Ohio.

USC then beat Utah, who may have been their strongest test to date. The final is listed at 23-14, but we all remember the blocked kick and the controversy in that one. Another close game.

USC then took out a Big East opponent, Syracuse. Syracuse is 3-1, with their wins coming over Wake Forest, Rhode Island and Toledo, the Toledo game going to OT. No one is going to mistake Syracuse for as National Title contender.

Recent history in this series shows us that Arizona has been competitive with USC. They lost 24-21 last year. In 2009 they beat USC 21-17. In 2008 they lost 17-10 and in 2007 they lost 20-13.

Bottom line here is that you're getting bonus points with this line as a result of who USC used to be combined with how bad Arizona looks, at least on paper. What's not taken into account here, is that USC barely got by some BCS teams that are way down the talent totem pole while Arizona was battling teams towards the top of the talent totem pole.

Do you think Arizona could beat Minnesota, Utah or Syracuse? USC is only a play here and there from losing to two of those teams. We can't pass up the points in this one. (Still good at +13 or more) Arizona +14

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