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Arizona

vs.

USC

PAC 12

College Football

Pick - Trends

10/10/13

Both of these squads are coming off a bye. The biggest news in this game is that USC will be led by new interim coach Ed Orgeron, who previously worked the defensive line and was the recruiting coordinator. If anything, the new coach should spark something anew in the Trojans, who already have two losses. USC enters as -5.5 point favorites at GTBets.

Both teams also already have a conference loss, but that doesn't mean their Pac-12 title game chances are gone. Unlike the North division, the South is still wide open with UCLA being the only team without a loss at the moment. These two teams get home games against UCLA down the road, which could make things interesting.

It looks as though the betting public has turned on the Tojans. USC was once, not too long ago, an automatic public play each week regardless of the line and the opponent. In the early week betting action at sportsbook.com, 75% of the action has come in on Arizona.

Arizona, who is coming off a loss at Washington, will be no easy task for USC. Led by running back Ka'Deem Carey, this is one of the best rushing teams in the nation. Carey has gone for 431 yards and five TDs, while quarterback B.J. Denker has 280 rushing yards and six TDs. Of course, it wasn't enough in their last loss to Washington. Even though 'Zona rushed for 199 yards as a team, they only scored 13 points due to a less than par passing attack. Denker is only completing 50 percent of passes on the year for two TDs and two INTs. That could end up being a major problem against the Trojans, especially on the road.

USC's defense was playing awesome until they allowed 62 points in their last loss at Arizona State. Still, in home games the Trojans have allowed just 31 points in three games.

Offensively, the Trojans have been okay, but they can be better. Cody Kessler hasn't done a whole lot at quarterback to deserve respect. In five games of work, he has 832 yards, six touchdowns and four interceptions. One would think he could be a little better throwing to Marqise Lee, who only has 385 yards and one touchdown. It doesn't help at all that Lee sprained his knee in the last contest and is questionable to play in this game. As usual, USC will have to ride its ground game led by Tre Madden. He already has 583 yards on the year and is one of the only positives for this offense.

Arizona struggled defensively against the similar offense of Washington two weeks ago. The Huskies rushed it right down the Wildcats' throats, running the ball 61 times for 244 yards. USC will likely take a similar route.

Last year's 39-36 win for Arizona was a battle of quarterbacks, and this year could be the opposite with each team's running game getting most of the attention. Marqise Lee had a ridiculous 345 receiving yards in the loss last season and would be a major loss for the Trojans if he can't go.

Surprisingly, USC hasn't had the edge in this matchup in recent years. Arizona has covered seven of the past eight meetings, including four straight in Los Angeles.

However, the Wildcats are just 1-4 ATS in their last five conference games and have not covered in four straight games against a team with a winning record. The Trojans aren't much better going 1-5 ATS in their last six conference games and 1-7 ATS in their last eight games overall. The over has hit in the past two meetings between these teams and the underdog has covered in eight straight.

A play here on Arizona was tempting. Go back to 2007 and look at the margins in this matchup. Games were decided by 7, 7, 4, 3, 7 and 3. The numbers also support a play on Arizona as they have the yards per point numbers of a top notch team on both sides of the ball, compared to the mediocre numbers of USC.

But it's important to consider that they have played one of the weakest schedules in all of college football. Now, our model takes this into account, and still predicts a 1 point Arizona win, but we simply don't trust the numbers here.

USC was playing some pretty good defense before that 2nd half collapse against Arizona State which led to the firing of Lane Kiffin. Arizona can run the ball but USC has the 13th ranked rushing defense in the country. If USC can stop Arizona on the ground it will be up to a passing attack of Arizona that ranks 120th in the nation. We don't like their chances in that scenario.

We'll lean towards Arizona here but this is a good game to stay away from considering the circumstances with the firing of Kiffin and that horrendous 2nd half collapse. Arizona +6 but just a lean.

 

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