It’s been a tough season of football for college teams in Los Angeles and neither USC nor UCLA is guaranteed a bowl Game at this point. It at least makes sense for UCLA, but USC started the season 4-2 and still has a decent amount of talent. Either way, the Trojans were -3.5 point road favorites with an over/under of 55 as of Wednesday at 5Dimes Sportsbook.
USC won this matchup 28-23 last year, but it’s hard to put anything into that as Josh Rosen and Sam Darnold were the two quarterbacks. The Trojans also dominated on the ground, but that isn’t how this season has gone. They’ve lost three of their last Four and are coming off an ugly 15-14 home loss to Cal, a team that has more wins than both of these schools. It’s been similar for UCLA, though its Schedule has been more difficult on its current three-Game losing streak. Plus, the Bruins beat Cal 37-7 on the road, so they at least have that going for them.
This has all the makings of an ugly Game mostly because neither offense has shown much consistency this year. USC freshman quarterback JT Daniels has talent, but talent can only get you so far when you have 11 touchdowns and eight interceptions in nine starts. He needs work on decision-making and it doesn’t help that he’s getting sacked often, which has dragged down the team’s yards per carry to 4.1. Running back Aca’Cedric Ware is having a solid season averaging 6.9 yards per carry and Vavae Malepeai isn’t far behind at 5.4, but those numbers don’t look as good alongside Daniels, who had seven rushes for -29 yards against Cal (Four sacks).
UCLA doesn’t have a good defense, allowing 33.3 points and 215 rushing yards per Game, and that’s the main reason to bet on USC. The Trojans should at least run the bell well between Ware and Malepeai and that could be enough to get out to a lead and hold onto it.
There are even more questions for the Bruins offense that still isn’t working. Wilton Speight is back under center, but that hasn’t changed anything and he has a worse 6.44 yards per attempt compared to backup Dorian Thompson-Robinson. The rushing attack is much better than a year ago led by Joshua Kelly, who has a touchdown in six-straight Games and 5.4 ypc for the season, but that can only go so far when opposing defenses aren’t scared of you passing the ball. That said, it’ll still be hard to take USC to cover because its defense has been hard to predict and this is the same team that won by just Four points at Arizona earlier in the season. The Trojans are allowing 153 rushing yards per contest and while that’s better than UCLA, that’s not a good number.
The Trojans are 8-3 ATS vs. a team with a losing record, but just 3-8-1 ATS in their last 12 road Games. The Bruins are 3-14 ATS in their last 17 following an ATS win and 1-6 ATS in their last seven at home. The under is 10-1-1 in the last 12 meetings between these schools and the home team is 15-7 ATS in the last 22 meetings.
Our Pick – UCLA +3