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The battle for Los Angeles is relevant once again. While neither team can make the Pac-12 Championship game, both have a chance of playing in a respectable bowl game. The Trojans are a revived team with five straight wins and are -3.5 point home favorites over the Bruins with a total of 51.5 at sportsbook.com where 64% of te wagers take have come in on USC.
UCLA was a promising team after starting the season 5-0, but road games at Stanford and Oregon stopped that run. Now, a lot of people are questioning just how good the Bruins are. They had a chance to knock off Arizona State last weekend at home, but were unable to and have now covered in just two of their last six games.
The Bruins have the offensive players to be a top team, but the defense hasn't held its end of the bargain. A first-half 35-13 hole didn't help against the Sun Devils last Saturday, granted one of those TDs was a pick six.
Offensively, QB Brett Hundley is a top-rated QB even though his numbers aren't eye-popping. Hundley is a solid passer completing 68 percent of his throws, but UCLA doesn't run the type of offense where he's going to put 50 points on the board each week. He has 22 TDs and nine INTs on the season. Hundley struggled last week running the ball which has been one thing that has bailed him out of a lot of situations this year. Joining him in the backfield is Myles Jack and Paul Perkins. Jack, also a linebacker, has seen his carries go up in three straight weeks since busting out a game-winning TD run. He's a hand full to get down. Second-leading WR Devin Fuller missed last week's game which hurt, but Shaq Evans stepped up a bit and saw more targets.
And then there's USC, who started slow, but is now looking like a good team once again. The non-cover last weekend was unfortunate at Colorado as the Buffaloes scored 22 points in the fourth quarter. Before that game, the Trojans covered in four straight.
USC's defense has been a big part of their success on the winning streak. Not many have stopped Hundley this year, but the Trojans could possibly contain him.
As for the Trojans offense, it's been dominated by a solid running game for most of the year as QB Cody Kessler isn't exactly a gun-slinger that can win games by himself. Javorius Allen is suddenly the go-to running back and has reached 133 yards in three of the last four games to go with nine TDs in that period. He didn't do much against Stanford, but neither does anyone else. WR Marqise Lee should be ready to go for this game and will be a big problem along with Nelson Agholor in the passing game. UCLA will have trouble stopping both air and ground in this matchup.
UCLA won this matchup last year even though USC outgained them by a little over 100 yards. With the way the Trojans have been playing lately, it's hard to see how they lose this one unless the Bruins pick up their game.
The Bruins are 1-4 ATS in their last five games following a straight up loss, yet 8-3 ATS in their last 11 games following an ATS loss. The Trojans are 1-5 ATS in their last six home games vs. a team with a winning road record. The under has hit in six of the last seven matchups between these teams and the Trojans are 7-1 ATS in the last eight meetings played at USC.
Our model is run with data from the entire season, last 4 games and last 7 games and comes up with the following predictions, UCLA 29-26, 38-35 and 31-23.
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