USC vs. Arizona: College football betting lines, odds and picks
Moral victories aren’t really enough for USC but might be the only thing left at the end of this season. The Trojans played a decent first half in South Bend, but 178 yards of offense were largely wasted with a punt, a red zone pick, a short field goal and the game clock striking zero.
A missed field-goal attempt soured a solid first possession in the second half and USC trailed 24-3 before scoring again. When all was said and done, the Trojans won the yardage battle 428-383 and won yards per play 6.1 to 5.4, but lost by double digits for the fourth time this season.
Now the focus shifts to the most winnable game left on the schedule and there really needs to be a series of feel-good moments against Arizona.
Arizona Wildcats at USC Trojans (-21, 56.5)
Arizona comes in winless with seven losses, including a home loss to Northern Arizona in Week 2. The Wildcats have scored only 51 points in four Pac-12 games and have scored only 100 points on the season. Arizona came into Week 9 ranked 119th in yards per play, ahead of teams like Massachusetts, Vanderbilt, Connecticut and Navy.
All in all, the Wildcats defense has performed admirably with no help from the offense. The Arizona D came into the week 82nd in yards per play allowed with 5.74, though it is worth pointing out that Pac-12 foes have gained nearly 6.2 yards per play. Given that Arizona is tied for dead last in the nation with a minus 11 turnover margin, the defense has been put into a lot of tight spots and has done about as good of a job as possible.
On the other hand, a few more takeaways would help, as Arizona has recovered two fumbles and secured just three interceptions. USC has had problems at times taking care of the football, but that could change in this game and lead to a Trojans rout.
The Trojans have beaten up on the three inferior teams that they have played, with the big road wins at Washington State and Colorado and the 23-point home win over San Jose State. This game should fit more into that category.
Penn State coach James Franklin rockets to the top of any coaching candidate list, but his link to a Vanderbilt rape case may raise questions at USC.
One random stat for this one is that Arizona actually ranks 13th in passing yards against per game, but that has to do with the Wildcats facing only 148 passing attempts — the lowest total in the nation. Opponents have gained 8.3 yards per pass attempt, but teams have not taken to the air much against Arizona.
USC should with the potent Kedon Slovis-Drake London combination. FBS teams have a 12:1 TD to INT ratio against the Wildcats this season. This is a game that USC needs to win convincingly and should have the pieces to do it.
Here is another interesting stat. Teams coming off of playing Notre Dame are 0-5 against the spread and just 1-4 straight up this season. Purdue beat Illinois by four as a 10-point favorite. Interestingly, all of these teams are deeply flawed or inconsistent, much like USC, as Florida State, Toledo, Purdue, Wisconsin and Virginia Tech all have major issues.
Despite that, my belief is that USC busts that trend and wins this game by enough margin to cover.
Pick: USC Trojans -21
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