Pick and Preview
USC will always be a popular team, but that doesn’t mean it’s always a good one. The Trojans are out of the national title race, yet still in the hunt for the Pac-12 South with only two Conference losses, something Arizona State can’t say. The Trojans were -7 point home favorites with an over/under of 54.5 as of Tuesday at 5Dimes Sportsbook.
That spread is interesting mostly because USC still doesn’t know who will start at quarterback with JT Daniels in the concussion protocol and questionable to play. If he can’t go, they’ll have to turn to third stringer Jack Sears, who still doesn’t have a snap this season because backup Matt Fink broke his ribs last weekend.
USC has dominated this matchup in the past, scoring at least 41 points in the last three Games, but there shouldn’t be much put into those Games since this is a different ASU team. While the Sun Devils have a losing record, all Four of their losses have come by seven points and that’s partly why this spread is a touchdown. They’ve battled in every Game, yet haven’t had enough to turn the corner and get wins against better teams on the Schedule, but if Daniels doesn’t play, that could change ASU’s fate.
And while the Sun Devils have a losing record, they still have plenty of quality on offense with quarterback Manny Wilkins, who has been more efficient this year with only two interceptions. He’s been more of a Game manager, though when behind has shown he can open it up with at least 340 yards in three different occasions. That’s made possible with stud wide out N’Keal Harry, but also a more consistent running Game led by Eno Benjamin, who looks set for a 1,000-yard season. However, Benjamin has been stuffed a few times this year and that most recently came against Stanford when he had only 38 yards. USC’s defense is on the same level as Stanford’s and if Benjamin can’t get going again, that could put ASU in another hole.
Maybe the most important battle in this matchup is USC’s running Game against ASU’s defensive front that’s allowing 3.7 yards per carry. Top rusher Aca’Cedric Ware didn’t have a carry against Utah, while Stephen Carr and Vavae Malepeai didn’t get much done without him. If the Trojans can’t run the ball in this Game, it’s hard to see them covering, no matter who is at quarterback. JT Daniels makes a lot of nice plays, but he also only has eight touchdowns and seven interceptions and hasn’t been a quarterback that’s going to pOur points on a legit defense. Playing at home, Daniels and USC are easier to trust to win the Game, though betting on them to win by more than seven points is tough.
The Sun Devils are 4-1 ATS in their last five Games following an ATS loss, while the Trojans are 1-4 ATS in their last five home Games, but 4-1 ATS vs. a team with a losing record. The favorite is 6-1 ATS in the last seven meetings between these schools and the under is 5-2-1 in the last eight meetings played at USC.
Our Pick – Arizona State +6.5