USC at Arizona Free PAC 12 College Football Pick – 11/14/20

Arizona Wildcats Pick
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It was a weird opening week for Pac-12 football. Arizona had its game postponed because Utah didn’t have enough scholarship players due to COVID-19, while USC needed two touchdowns in the final three minutes to beat Arizona State by a point.

Based off that opening win and an early-season top-25 ranking in the AP Poll, the Trojans opened as -14.5 point road favorites with an over/under of 67.5. 

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The Trojans didn’t really look much different from last season in their opener. They gave up 258 rushing yards on 6.8 yards per carry, while quarterback Kedon Slovis threw for 381 yards and they rushed for 175 yards as a team.

That was kind of what happened most of last season. Their defense struggled to keep opponents from scoring and moving the ball, while Slovis did his best to get wins and keep the team in games.

USC 41-14 in 2019

Given that it’s almost a mirror performance from last season, it may be best to look at last year’s 41-14 win against Arizona. USC’s offense did what it wanted in that contest, scoring at least one touchdown in every quarter, while its defense did enough.

The Wildcast fell apart in the second half of last season and that loss was the start of it as they couldn’t figure out their identity offensively.

Unfortunately, the jury is still out on Arizona’s offense since it has yet to play. Quarterback Graham Gunnell fought for playing time all last season and he’ll lead the offense after decent numbers in limited opportunities, averaging 8.0 yards per pass for nine touchdowns and one interception.

He’s pretty much the only hope for Arizona unless its defense looks completely different. Gunnell at least has pieces around him with a few starters back on the line and running back Gary Brightwell, who averaged 5.9 yards per carry on 66 totes last season.

Brian Casteel takes over as the No. 1 receiver after catching 45 balls last year, while sophomore Boobie Curry won the other starting spot in the offseason.

Arizona will hope to get back to the first half of last year when it opened 4-1, but given how its defense played, that’ll be hard to bet on.

AZ 35 PPG Last Year

The Wildcats allowed more than 35 points and close to 500 yards per game last season, and while they return a slew of guys on that side of the ball, that may not matter. It doesn’t help that USC did what it wanted in this matchup last season, either.

The Trojans ran a ton of plays last week, 34 more than ASU, and they’ll likely continue that strategy. Slovis has a deep set of receivers between Drake London, Amon-Ra St. Brown and Tyler Vaughns, and that’s who will get most of the looks.

The rushing attack was an issue last season, but it was fine in the opener, averaging 4.4 yards per carry between Vavae Malepeai, Markese Stepp and Stephen Carr. The skill players are loaded and that will probably be enough against any of the sub-par defenses in the conference, Arizona being one of them.

If Arizona’s defense looks the same as last season, there’s a chance USC is headed for 40-plus points. The question is if Gunnell is ready to get the Wildcats to 30 points per game because if that’s the case, a home cover is definitely a possibility.

Our Pick

Have to feel that if the USC offense can pick up where they left off in the 4th quarter last week, they can extend a margin in this one against an Arizona team playing it’s 1st game.

USC -14

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