This is uncharted territory for USC with a 1-2 record, losing its last two Games by at least 14 points each. A return home should help, though stopping the Washington State offense is never a fun task. The Trojans opened as just -4.5 point favorites at 5Dimes Sportsbook. (currently -3.)
Of course, when these teams met a year ago, Washington State gave USC its first loss in a 30-27 result. The passing Game did just enough while the Cougars also ran for 122 yards on 4.1 yards per carry. Maybe more impressive was that they held Sam Darnold to 164 passing yards and no touchdowns. This Game could go a similar way, though Wazzu’s defense isn’t at the same level as a year ago.
It’s still been a nice start to the season for Washington State, winning and covering all three of its Games while USC is 1-2 ATS. The Cougars are running their usual offense with East Carolina transfer Gardner Minshew at quarterback. For the most part, he’s doing everything as expected, completing 70 percent of his passes for eight touchdowns and three picks with 400 yards per contest. This will be a different test, but WSU moved the ball in this matchup last year and after the USC defense fell apart against Texas last weekend, it’s not guaranteed the Trojans are better defensively than a year ago. Minshew will look to top wide out Davontavean Martin plenty, but the important thing will be to get something on the ground, which Wazzu did last year. James Williams is averaging 4.3 yards per carry, yet had just six carries for 19 yards against Eastern Washington. If that happens again, it’ll be difficult to pull off another upset.
On the other side of the ball, JT Daniels needs to do a little more. He doesn’t have a touchdown in the last two Games and is completing only 57.3% of his passes. WSU’s defense is more in line with UNLV’s, but even then he wasn’t overly efficient in the opener. As long as USC doesn’t go down big, it will likely lean on the ground Game between Aca’Cedric Ware and Stephen Carr. Those two should find plenty of holes against this defense after gaining 5.6 yards per carry as a team in last year’s meeting.
Little is known of Washington State at this point, but it wasn’t expected to be as good as previous seasons. We’ll get a better idea in this Game, but this isn’t the same Trojans team either and they aren’t exactly big favorites in the extremely weak Pac-12 South. In fact, USC could lose this Game and still have a good shot to win the division. Wazzu knows how to put points on the board, which should keep the Scoreclose. But with USC at home, the Trojans will get more money.
The Cougars are 10-4 ATS in their last 14 overall, yet only 3-7 ATS in their last 10 on the road. The Trojans are 3-14-1 ATS in their last 18 Games overall and 1-6 ATS in their last seven at home. The road team is 5-1 ATS in the last six meetings between these schools and the under has hit in the last Four played at USC.
Our Pick – Washington State +3.5