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Outside of Oregon, these are the two most talked about teams in the Pac-12. After the Cardinal controlled Oregon's offense yet again last week, Stanford is probably the most popular team at the moment. Despite a loss at Utah a month ago, Stanford is still No. 4 in the BCS. However, one team that still hasn't gone away is USC, who has won three-straight games in dominant fashion. Because of that streak, Stanford is only -3.5 point favorites on the road here, at betonline sportsbook.
Neither team started all that great against the spread to start off the year, but that hasn't been the case as of late. Both have covered in three straight games and are a riding a hot streak. Stanford is in the driver's seat of the Pac-12 North, while USC still has a chance to make a move in the South, especially if Arizona State loses another game.
For most of the season, the Trojans have been extremely inconsistent on both ends of the ball. However, since Ed Orgeron took over, the defense has been nothing but consistent, keeping opponents in check. They gave up 28 points to California last weekend, but that was a lot of garbage points in a 62-28 win. The offense has gotten a hold of things as well, not only the 62 points last weekend, but also on the road at Oregon State two weeks ago in a 31-14 win.
Quarterback Cody Kessler isn't lighting it up, but he is playing it safe and letting the rushing game do its thing. Kessler only has four passing TDs in the last four games, and that's all they've needed (outside of the loss at Notre Dame). Even with Tre Madden out with a hamstring injury, Silas Redd stepped up for 140 yards against the Beavers. With Redd banged up, it was Javorius Allen and Ty Isaac that rushed for a combined 222 yards and four touchdowns last weekend. Those numbers will be a little more difficult against Stanford, who just dismantled Oregon's offense.
Because of that, a lot will fall on to Kessler to get this offense going. If the rushing game can't move the ball consistently, it will be on Kessler to do that. In a similar game earlier this year, Kessler had trouble doing anything against Notre Dame with 201 yards, zero TDs and one INT.
Stanford doesn't have a great offense, which is a reason they lost at Utah. It's going to come down to how good the USC defense actually is. Will they be able to contain the Cardinal's balanced attack?
Running back Tyler Gaffney is exploiting defenses at the moment, rushing for 100 yards in four straight games to go with seven TDs. He had a ridiculous 45 carries for 157 yards against the Ducks last week. However, just like USC, their quarterback play isn't great. If USC can stop Gaffney from moving the chains, Hogan will have trouble. He only has needed 191 passing yards in Stanford's last two wins. If the Trojans can change that, this will be a tight game.
It may come down to other playmakers, as well. Stanford's Ty Montgomery has been electric this year, while USC's Marqise Lee is always a threat and should be healthy for this matchup. Can one of them breakout in prime time?
This game will likely be in line with last year's 21-14 win for Stanford. It will be low scoring, and may be decided by the turnover battle.
The Cardinal are 14-3 ATS in their last 17 road games and have covered in five of their last six games against the Trojans. The Trojans are 4-1 ATS in their last five games, but 8-15 ATS in their last 23. The Trojans are also 1-6 ATS in their last seven games against Stanford when playing at home.
The public isn't buying in on USC. The betting trends at sportsbook.com show us that 91% of the early action here is on Stanford.
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