College Football Pick
Gone are the days when this matchup made national headlines and featured two ranked teams. Oregon continues its downward trajectory while USC is still trying to recoup from early losses. The Trojans opened as -16 point home favorites at 5 Dimes Sportsbook.
USC struggled early on, highlighted by big losses to Alabama and Stanford, but the Trojans have quietly climbed into the fight for the Pac-12 South. They find themselves with the same record as Utah, who already beat them and half a Game back of Colorado, who USC beat. That said, USC still has to travel to Washington and UCLA in the following two weeks.
None of this really matters to Oregon, though, who lost its first Four Conference Games of the season. The Ducks are now just 1-4 in Pac-12 play and 3-5 overall. Similar to USC, things aren’t getting any easier for them, with Stanford and Utah still left on the Schedule.
The situation was a bit different a year ago when these teams met as Oregon ran away with the win, 48-28. They were actually decent defensively and Vernon Adams tossed six touchdowns in the process. Now with one of the worst defenses in the country allowing 42.3 points per Game, the Ducks will try and do something against a USC offense that has figured things out with Sam Darnold at quarterback. The Trojans have 93 points in their last two Games.
The freshman quarterback has truly been the difference maker for USC with 16 touchdowns in the last Four Games and just two interceptions. After starting the season on the bench in the first three Games he has turned around the entire complexion of this team. Along with that, he has turned Juju Smith-SChuster into a legitimate threat once again. And then there’s still a good ground Game with a trio of running backs. Justin Davis is battling an ankle injury, but Ronaldo Jones and Aca’Cedric Ware combined for 300-plus yards in the win over Cal.
With how this Oregon defense has played, there’s no reason to believe they can stop USC from scoring. Whether it’s Darnold through the air or one of their running backs, points will be had.
The question will be if Oregon can put points on the board to get the cover. USC’s defense has followed suit in recent Games, holding solid offenses down. The Trojans stopped Cal to just 24 points last Game, which is better than most defenses can do.
With freshman Justin Herbert at quarterback, Oregon did get their first Conference win last Game, but beating Arizona State at home doesn’t show much. This offense struggled against Washington and while Herbert threw for six touchdowns at Cal, they still lost in overtime.
The path for covering for the Ducks goes through the ground Game, which would in turn limit USC’s chances on offense. Tony Brooks-James has looked good, but Royce Freeman, once considered one of the best running backs in the country, hasn’t surpassed 50 yards in the last three Games. The Ducks will need something out of their run Game to take the pressure of Herbert because there’s almost no doubt they’ll be playing from behind.
The Ducks are 1-8-1 ATS in their last 10 overall, but still 22-7-1 ATS in their last 30 road Games. Then again, this isn’t the same team that had all those road covers. The Trojans are 4-1 ATS vs. a team with a losing record, but 1-4 ATS in their last five following an ATS win.
Our Pick – One thing Oregon can still do is put points on the board. As long as that’s the case, gotta give em a look getting +17 in any Game. Oregon +17