USC is leading the Pac-12 South by half a Game and that says everything about the conference. The Trojans have won their last few Games, but not many oddsmakers trust them and that’s seen in the spread against Utah. Playing at home, the Utes were -7 point favorites with an over/under of 48.5 as of Tuesday at 5Dimes Sportsbook.
USC has won its last three and while Washington State and Colorado aren’t easy competition, there’s still little faith in the Trojans after getting destroyed on the road by both Stanford and Texas. The Utes have a worse record, but lost at home to Washington and the other was on the road at Wazzu. Most recently, they beat Stanford 40-21 on the road and last week handled Arizona 42-10. Three of the last Four meetings between these teams has been decided by Four points or less so it’s be surprising if that didn’t happen again.
The Trojans stole this Game last year 28-27 and that was after being down by 14 points. Both teams had success moving the ball, but as seen in the over/under, that’s not expected to happen in this matchup. Utah’s defense is one of the best in the country, allowing 16 points per Game and fewer than 75 rushing yards per contest. USC’s main problem has been giving up sacks and that’s hurt its overall rushing numbers at just 3.8 yards per carry as a team. However, Aca’Cedric Ware and Stephen Carr are both averaging at least five yards per carry and that’s where USC has to shine. Without a running Game, the pressure will be on freshman quarterback JT Daniels to produce and that’s not a good thing. He’s made some nice throws this season, but lacks consistency with just 7.61 yards per attempt and only seven touchdowns.
USC will try and ride its defense in this Game and while it’s been good, it hasn’t been elite allowing 25.2 points per Game and it also just lost senior linebacker Porter Gustin to injury. The biggest thing for Utah the last couple weeks has been its offensive revival, scoring an impressive 40 points at Stanford led by a dominant ground Game. With the Trojans allowing 150 rushing yards per contest, that could be where Utah strikes in this one.
Zack Moss had 141 rushing yards in last year’s matchup and has been running well this season already with 617 yards and seven touchdowns on 5.6 yards per carry. Moss could have similar success in this one and that’s how Utah will get out to a lead. The question is if the Utes can hold onto a lead and that may be the difference compared to last year as Daniels has yet to show he can win USC a Game by himself. Tyler Huntley is simply a Game manager at quarterback for Utah and hasn’t attempted more than 21 passes in the last three Games, while his mobility adds another element to Moss in the rushing attack.
This spread is a bit large considering USC has won three straight, but the matchup isn’t great for the Trojans so there’s a possibility Utah runs away with things. Then again, that’s never happened between these teams in recent history, as it’s either close or USC dominates.
The Trojans are 2-7-1 ATS in their last 10 road Games and haven’t covered in their last five on field turf. The Utes are 20-8-1 ATS vs. a team with a winning record and 1-4 ATS in their last five home Games against a team with a winning road record (USC is 1-2 on the road). The home team has covered in six of the last seven meetings between these schools.
Our Pick – Utah -7