Pick – Analysis
USC has lost three of its last Four Games, is playing with an interim head coach and is favored at home against undefeated Utah. As of Monday, the Trojans were a -3.5 point home favorite at mybookie.ag.
Nothing prior to this Game suggests that USC should be favored by this much, even at home. Even last year, the Utes won this Game 24-21 in a slugfest that was decided by a Travis Wilson touchdown pass in the final seconds. USC has gone from Pac-12 South favorites to possibly a losing record if they can’t come out on top in this one.
The Utes, on the other hand, have been cruising through the Conference since they won at Oregon by 42 points a few weeks ago. They are undefeated and don’t have a ranked team remaining in their upcoming Schedule. But in college football, rankings don’t really matter, which is why they are an underdog in this Game.
Utah has jumped to the No. 3 ranking with wins against Oregon, California and Arizona State in Conference play, as well as a win over Michigan in the opener. Its defense has suffocated just about every offense, not letting any of them to get anything going. The Utes are allowing 19.5 points per Game, but now have to face one of the best quarterbacks in the Game, Cody Kessler.
Kessler has done everything in his power to get this team wins, but has begun to throw interceptions as the defense struggles to keep opponents in check. Kessler has already reached his INT total from a year ago (five) to go with his 17 touchdowns. Interceptions in this Game will be costly and the Utah defense is one of the best at creating turnovers. The Trojans will probably have a hard time getting the run Game going with Tre Madden, Justin Davis and Ronald Jones, so this one will probably come down to Kessler and JuJu Smith-SChuster (758 yards, 7 TDs) yet again. They put up numbers last week, but Notre Dame dropped 17 points in the Fourth quarter and that was it.
Utah will continue with its run-heavy approach behind Devontae Booker and it’s hard to see how the Trojans will stop it, considering no one has been able to slow down Booker this year. USC let Notre Dame rush for 214 yards and a couple TDs last week. Booker and quarterback Travis Wilson will look to continue on that number, but Wilson’s arm has been one of the main reasons this team is better than a year ago.
Wilson has been efficient in the early going, completing 67.9% of his passes for seven touchdowns and three interceptions. He also spreads the ball out plenty to Kenneth SCott, Britain Covey and Booker out of the backfield.
Utah should be able to move the ball, while Kessler could have some trouble if USC doesn’t get some yards via the ground Game.
The home team has covered in Four straight Games between these teams, while the Utes are 8-1 ATS in their last nine road Games. Also, the under has hit in six of USC’s last seven Conference Games.
Our Pick – This is a VERY difficult Game to handicap. On the one hand, ALL of Our numbers point towards Utah being the right side, plus the points as this figures (statistically) to be a very close Game likely decided late in the 4th quarter. In that type of a setup, we always want to be taking points.
However, there are also some red flags that will likelt keep us away from this one.
USC is certainly a capable team. They may have lost 3 of 4 but they could have won any of those. They are at home, seeking revenge for last years loss to the Utes AND they are like a cornered animal right now, having lost 3 of the last 4 as mentioned. They need a “W” in the worst way and when you have a chance to do that against the #3 team in the nation, look out.
Those red flags would explain why the line has moved from -3 to -3.5 DESPITE 80% of the wagers coming in on Utah.
When we play a Game, we look for the motivational AND statistical edges to line up on one side. When those edges go head to head against each other like they do in this one, we generally stay away. For the sake of making a prediction on this one, we’ll go with the stats. But we’ll tread lightly. Utah +3.5