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USC

vs.

Texas

College Football

Pick

9/15/18

USC comes into this game ranked 22nd in the AP Poll, yet it’s hard to feel good about that coming off a 17-3 loss to Stanford. This matchup may be one of the harder ones to project only because both of these teams are still mysteries. Playing at home, the Longhorns are -3.5 point favorites as of Monday at YOUWAGER Sportsbook. It took some time for the spread to come out because JT Daniels exited for one series against Stanford due to a hand injury. He’s expected to play, but it’s something worth monitoring.

It took four quarters for USC to separate from UNLV in its opener and then it never really looked competitive in the loss to Stanford. JT Daniels can be a great quarterback, but against a stout defense, he managed just 215 yards and two picks on 34 attempts. Conveniently, it’s been an equally confounding season for Texas. After losing to Maryland in the opener, the Longhorns had trouble finishing the game against Tulsa, a two-win team in 2017. They led 21-0 at half, but they didn’t make it easy on themselves en route to a 28-21 win.

Starting with Daniels and the USC offense, it’s still a work in progress. Stephen Carr and Aca’Cedric Ware form a nice duo in the backfield and that’s what the Trojans will likely lean on for most of the season, as long as they aren’t getting blown out. Daniels still has some kinks to work out and it’s best he isn’t asked to win the game by himself, similar to Sam Darnold last year. As a positive, Texas doesn’t present the same challenge as Stanford, but this is still a good defense and it’s not like Daniels was consistent against UNLV. 

It’s kind of the same situation on the other side in that Texas still has to work some things out with Sam Ehlinger at quarterback, while the USC defense is probably better than anything Texas has faced. But one thing in Texas’s favor is that USC is giving up chunks of yardage on the ground and that’s where the Longhorns will attack. Even though running back Keaontay Ingram is doubtful with a knee injury, Tre Watson is still there and Ehlinger is plenty mobile himself. Neither Daniels nor Ehlinger are easy to trust at quarterback, but Ehlinger at least has the mobility and experience edge, which could make a difference in a close game.

Playing at home, Tom Herman hopes to light a fire under his team with the hopes of getting a real win on the resume. As for the Trojans, this was always going to be a difficult season with a freshman at quarterback, but a 1-2 start wasn’t expected. When they met last year, the only reason USC won 27-24 at home was because of Darnold, who threw for 397 yards. Neither team got its ground game going and it was a battle between the quarterbacks with Ehlinger coming out on the losing end. Now at home and against a freshman, Ehlinger has the edge in that area.

The Trojans are 3-13-1 ATS in their last 17 games overall and haven’t covered in their last four games on field turf. The Longhorns are 6-2 ATS in their last eight against the Pac-12, including a cover in last year’s meeting. 

Our Pick - Not much to choose from here. The revenge angle for Texas, at home, along with USC starting a Freshman QB, is enough for us to lean the Longhorns way. Texas -3 -120

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