UCLA – USC CFB Spread Winner

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College Football

Pick – Analysis


It’s been an interesting season for both of these teams, but at the end of the day, the winner of this Game will be awarded the Pac-12 South title. Coming off a loss, USC is a slight home favorite at -3.5 points as seen at 5 Dimes Sportsbook.

The Trojans are 7-4, but somehow still have a chance to win the Pac-12. They were on a Four-Game winning streak led by interim coach Clay Helton, but just didn’t have enough last weekend in a 48-28 loss to Oregon. USC’s defense has had issues throughout the season and that came to fruition in that last Game.

UCLA has had problems of its own, most notably in home losses to Arizona State and Washington State, but are in the same position as USC with both teams having beaten Utah. The Bruins played their best defensive Game of the season last week and came out on top against the Utes 17-9. They’ll need a similar defensive outing in this one to stop a much more balanced offense.

USC’s winning streak was led by a dominant ground Game that let them hold onto leads. against Oregon, that wasn’t the case. The Ducks put up points early and that forced the Trojans to sway from their Game plan a bit and Cody Kessler finished with only 238 yards on 41 pass attempts. It should be a different scenario in this Game as UCLA isn’t quite as high-powered as Oregon and that will allow USC to focus on its ground Game once again. Ronald Jones (827 yards, 7 TDs) and Justin Davis (646 yards, 5 TDs) will likely combine for 30-plus touches again with Kessler taking a backseat to the rushing Game. Kessler hasn’t thrown for more than 270 yards since their loss at Notre Dame, and it’s worked for the most part.

UCLA’s task will be doing what Oregon did last week. The Bruins need to Scoreearly and often so the Trojans can’t get into that power-Game mode. If they do, this will probably be a close result, but likely in USC’s favor.

True freshman quarterback Josh Rosen has had a great season considering the circumstances, and going to the Pac-12 title Game would be an impressive feat. He has 21 total TDs and 7 INTs on the year, but has only one touchdown in the last two Games to go with 87 pass attempts. Rosen and the offense need to come out gunning and they have the receivers in Jordan Payton and Thomas Duarte to do just that. Running back Paul Perkins (1,180 yards, 11 TDs) is also a huge part of the offense, and will be key in keeping UCLA around if Rosen can’t find the end zone.

The Bruins have had the edge in this matchup the last three years, winning all three by double digits. Before that, USC had a stranglehold on the rivalry.

The under is 8-1 in the last nine meetings between these teams, while the home team is 9-3 ATS in the last 12. For the Bruins to win this Game, the over will likely need to hit, so the Trojans can’t stick exclusively with their ground attack.

Our Pick – From a handicapping standpoint, this Game is as close as it gets. One of the things we do with Our model this time of year, is run several different scenarios using different time frame parameters. We run it using full season data, last 7 Games only and last 4 Games only. This gives us a look at how teams have played all year as well as how they are playing right now.

Using the entire season, the model says USC wins 35-28.

Using the last 7 Games only, still USC 33-30.

Using just the last 4 Games, it’s UCLA on top 29-24.

As a handicapper, this isn’t a Game you’d look at and find a concrete edge one way or another, which should lead to passing on the Game. At least for this handicapper.

However, it’s a huge Game and Our readers at least want an opinion. So, with that in mind, we’re inclined to go with USC here, based on their entire body of work this season, rather than just the last 4 Games. Doesn’t hurt to have the experience edge at QB in big Games either. Shop around, there are -3’s out there. USC -3


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