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USC

vs.

Stanford

Pick with Analysis

9/15/12

Stanford hosts USC this week as the Cardinal continues it's first season without Andrew Luck. Most Sportsbooks opened this game USC -9 and at one time we saw some 10's on the board. Betonline actually opened this one USC -6.5 but the early action moved the number quickly. Both 5 Dimes and SBG Global are at -9 currently while the betting trends posted at the worlds largest sportsbook, sportsbook.ag, show us that 94% of the early wagers they have take thus far (Monday evening) have been on the Trojans.

Don't kid yourself, this is a different Stanford team that beat USC last year 56-48. Most of Stanford's offense is gone from quarterback to the offensive line. The big returnee is running back Stepfan Taylor who managed 116 total yards and two touchdowns in last season's match up.

Even with all of these losses Stanford has started the season 2-0, albeit against some lower tier teams in San Jose State and Duke. They squeaked by SJSU in their first game 20-17 and handled Duke 50-13 this past weekend. The problem that stands out is that they allowed 358 passing yards to Duke. Think about that. They are going against Matt Barkley and one of the best offenses in the country in USC. The Trojans are a 10 point favorite on the road for a reason.

USC hasn't been spectacular by any means beating Hawaii 49-10 and fighting through Syracuse 42-29, although that game was basically a road game playing at MetLife Stadium. That's a main reason why USC is only just 10 point favorites in this game. Their defense hasn't looked good enough to be able to stop the likes of Taylor and Josh Nunes at QB.

While the Cardinal are still a running team, Nunes hasn't been bad tossing for 400 yards and four TDs through the first two games. Sure, he isn't Andrew Luck, but neither is anyone else. As expected, Stanford is a run heavy team, with Taylor getting 185 from 40 carries. As a team, Stanford has 67 carries compared to 59 pass attempts. That's definitely not a bad thing, but can they put up the points against USC? Against Duke, Stanford did not top 100 yards rushing which snapped their 49-game streak. However, if a team like Syracuse can put 29 points on USC, Stanford shouldn't have a problem getting on the board. The question lies on the other side of the ball.

The defensive side has been where the Cardinal are making their mark, holding the Blue Devils to a mere 27 yards rushing. While they did give up 358 yards passing, Duke was unable to throw a TD and threw three interceptions. The bend, but don't break philosophy might be the only way Stanford has a chance in this game because you know USC will stack up the yards.

The USC receiving game is led pretty much by two players, Marqise Lee and Robert Woods. Those two account for 37 of 49 receptions! That is a lot. If those guys get covered, Barkley always has Silas Redd sitting in the backfield to dump off too. Redd only has 24 carries in two games, but has gone for 163 yards. That's a 6.8 yard per carry average.

From the betting standpoint, the Trojans are just 1-4 ATS in the last five meetings between the two teams, but conversely the road team is 6-1 ATS in the last seven games in this match up. Going for Stanford, the underdog is 4-1 ATS in the last five. All numbers point to this being a high-scoring, but close game.

The difference will be how effective the Cardinal defense can be against the high-flying Trojans.

Last year this game went to triple OT. But there wouldn't have been an OT at all if it wasn't for Andrew Luck. We're going to learn a lot about both of these teams this week. Both of these teams have blown out an opponent they should have, and played much closer games with an opponent they were expected to have an easy time with. There were some +10's at one point on this game, so we'll watch the board and if a +10 pops up again, we'll consider siding with the Luck-Less Cardinal at home. Stanford +10

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