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USC vs. Arizona

PAC 12

Football Pick

10/27/12

When looking at the line for this game (USC 6.5-point favorites in most places), many will be surprised it's so low. However, when looking at the numbers, it makes sense. This is USC's fourth road game of the year and their previous ones weren't that pretty. They lost their only game of the season at Stanford and beat two of the weaker teams in the Pac 12, Utah and Washington, by only 10 points. Arizona has three losses, but those were to three teams ranked in the Top 20, two of them being in the Top 10. The Wildcats just beat Washington last week by 35 points. This could turn into a very tricky game for the Trojans.

USC has won the last two meetings and nine of the last 10 games against Arizona, but they haven't been covering the spread as much. The Wildcats are actually 6-1 ATS in their last seven meetings. That's a pretty good number to look at for this game. Last year was a shootout with USC scoring one more touchdown in a 48-41 win. Each QB threw four TDs in that game. Obviously, Nick Foles doesn't play for Arizona anymore, but Matt Scott has stepped in admirably in his senior year.

Because of Scott, Arizona's offense has just enough firepower to give USC problems. Considering they scored 48 points at Stanford and 35 against Oregon State, they are underrated by a lot of people. Scott is posting Foles-like numbers with 2,355 yards and 17 TDs through seven games of work. Interceptions have been his main downfall though, as he's thrown six in their three losses. They'll try and work running back Ka'Deem Cary as much as possible. He already has 155 carries, 842 yards and 11 touchdowns this season. He's reached 115 yards and at least one TD in his last three games. Wide receivers Austin Hill and Dan Buckner keep the chains moving for Scott. The two have 44 catches a piece for a combined 1,277 yards and nine TDs.

The Trojans defense will have their hands full. Obviously, so will Arizona going against Matt Barkley and company. The Wildcats lost their three games because of poor defense. Sure, they gave up 49 points to Oregon, but Oregon State and Stanford scored way over their season averages against them.

Everyone knows what Barkley can do. While his yardage totals aren't that great (1,773 yards), he already has 22 TDs and set a Pac 12 record last week. He should get a few more touchdowns this weekend. Marqise Lee has been his favorite target all year with 60 grabs and 784 yards, but Robert Woods actually leads Lee in TDs, 9 to 8. That's due in large part to getting four scores last weekend. Silas Redd will get more work this week out of the backfield as he only had four touches last week against Colorado. USC went into that game with passing in mind. No matter, Redd has 583 rushing yards and six TDs on the season.

USC is only 2-5 ATS in their last seven games overall and 0-4 ATS in their last four road games. Arizona doesn't have much better numbers at 1-4 ATS in their last five home games vs. a team with a winning road record. The road team is 4-1 ATS in their last five meetings, but the underdog has covered in seven straight games. As for the points, the under has hit in the last four meetings in Arizona.

When you think of these two teams, you think, night and day, especially after last years 4 win season for Arizona. But Arizona has played some good USC teams tight. Of the last 5 games between these two, USC has won 4, but all of the games were decided by a TD or less, including the one Arizona won straight up in 2009. This years Arizona team lost to Oregon in a blowout, but their other two losses were by 6 points to Oregon State and Stanford.

Arizona can put points on the board and all indication are that they will make a game of this. Our model says USC on top by a score of 32-28, a 4 points game. If Arizona is behind, the back door will always be open in this one, but we also think they have a shot to pull the upset and win this one on the field. Arizona +6.5

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