USC – Stanford CFB Spread Winner

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Football Championship

Pick – Analysis


After firing its head coach and starting the season 3-3, USC somehow made it to the Pac-12 title Game. The Trojans won five of their last six Games and will take on Stanford, who is coming off a miraculous win over Notre Dame. The Cardinal, who have dominated the Pac-12 most of the season, opened as a -4.5 point favorite for the Game at Levi’s Stadium (spread at 5 Dimes Sportsbook).

These teams met back in September with Stanford walking away with a 41-31 road win as a 9.5-point underdog, but that seems like a lifetime ago for this USC team. That was in the early stages of Steve Sarkisian’s downfall with the team. This is now Clay Helton’s team as he was signed on to become the full-time head coach on Monday.

In that first meeting, Stanford did whatever it wanted on offense (hence the 41 points), while USC just didn’t have enough. This Game should be a bit different as the Trojans have taken on a new look with Helton leading the way. That was most notable in USC’s last win over UCLA as they ran for 235 yards as a team and Cody Kessler only threw for 175 yards.

since Helton took over, the Trojans have become a run-first team, which is something Kessler never really has been a part of since he’s been quarterback. Obviously, it’s worked out well as they are in the title Game. Will that work against Stanford, though, one of the best rush defenses in the conference?

Running backs Justin Davis and Ronald Jones have provided a solid one-two punch in this offense, with both seeing almost 15 carries every Game. against the Bruins, Davis had 130 yards on 25 totes and Jones was behind him with 63 yards on 17 carries. No one has really been able to stop this ground attack of the Trojans yet and while Oregon beat USC a couple weeks ago, it was because the Ducks put up points early.

Stanford’s goal will be to do just that. UCLA was up early, but couldn’t hold onto that lead and that was it as the USC ground Game took over in the second quarter.

The Cardinal love to run the ball as well so this Game should be a little lower scoring than that previous meeting. Although, that isn’t really a given since both offenses can Scorewhen needed.

Stanford uses a few running backs, but Christian McCaffrey is the main guy as he’s seen at least 30 touches in three straight Games. He struggled a bit against Notre Dame, but still finished with over 100 total yards. McCaffrey has 2,075 total yards and 10 total TDs on the year and Stanford will look to get him going early.

Kevin Hogan — much like what Kessler has done with USC lately — is more of a Game manager, but can lead the team when need be. Hogan was key in Stanford’s win over Notre Dame this past weekend, throwing for 269 yards and Four touchdowns, including the final drive that led to a Game-winning field goal.

These teams play a similar brand of football and neither one of these defenses really stands out above the other.

This matchup has been split throughout the years, with the underdog covering in Four straight meetings. The Cardinal have played well in big Games, going 5-1 ATS in their last six neutral-site Games.

Our Pick – Need to be concerned with how much of a toll the Notre Dame Game has had on Stanford. That type of emotional, last second win, can leave a team flat the following week.

However, when using only data fro the last 7 Games, Our model has Stanford winning this one comfortably by a couple of TD’s. Stanford -4.5

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