Almost out of nowhere it seems like, USC is suddenly back in the race for the Pac-12 South title. The Trojans lost three of Four Games, but are only one Game behind in the standings after last weekend’s win. After almost an entire month on the road, California is just happy to be home and is looking to bounce back. The Trojans, off a big win, are up to -5.5 point road favorites as of Monday at 5 Dimes Sportsbook.
The Trojans are back in the public eye after taking down No. 3 Utah last weekend, almost with ease. They beat up on the Utes 42-24 and looked like a completely different team after losing three of their last Four. Maybe the Steve Sarkisian firing made this team better and the result at Notre Dame was just the factor of playing a tough team on the road.
As for the Golden Bears, they started the season 5-0, but never really looked over-the-top good. Close wins at Texas and Washington were mediocre, as well as a home win against Washington State. Still, this is a team that has played Four of its last five Games on the road, so just being on home turf will be a good thing for California.
USC has owned this matchup for a while and will look to keep that record in check. In fact, the last time the Golden Bears walked away with a win in this meeting was 2003 when Aaron Rodgers was quarterbacking the team.
If Jared Goff wants to be the No. 1 QB taken in the upcoming draft, this will be a perfect showcase for him. Goff hasn’t played exceptionally well this season, although is completing a career-best 65.5% of his passes. No matter, his five-interception Game at Utah will probably stick out whenever looking at this resume. But outside of that Game, he’s put Cal in good situations, while it didn’t really matter against UCLA last week in a 40-24 loss. Goff still threw for 295 yards, three TDs and zero picks in that Game. against USC, getting some type of ground Game will be important. That’s not really the mold of this team, but it will have to be in order to keep Cody Kessler off the field. They ran for 131 yards against the Bruins, yet still ended up allowing 399 passing yards to Josh Rosen last Game.
There’s no doubt USC quarterback Cody Kessler will want to show up Goff in this Game. Kessler hasn’t gotten the NFL respect that Goff has gotten, yet has produced at a better rate. While USC has three losses, Kessler has 18 TDs and only five INTs and is doing everything he can for this team. Much like California, the USC ground Game has been inconsistent, although a solid effort against Utah could give them some confidence. Much like that Game, if the Trojans can find room on the ground, Cal could be in trouble.
Goff has a lot on his shoulders in this Game, but it wouldn’t be surprising if he could keep the Golden Bears close. That is, if the defense doesn’t give up 40 points again.
The Trojans have covered in five straight meetings between these teams played in California, but they are also just 1-5 ATS in their last six Games overall following an ATS win. The under has surprisingly hit six straight times for the Golden Bears in Conference Games.
Our Pick – USC is better on both sides of the ball. We have them winning by 10+ and we’re willing to lay a TD or less. USC -5.5