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USC vs. Arizona State: College football betting lines, odds and analysis

USC quarterback Kedon Slovis looks to throw against Arizona on Oct. 30.
USC quarterback Kedon Slovis looks to throw against Arizona on Oct. 30. Can the Trojans pull off an upset over Arizona State on Saturday?
(Marcio Jose Sanchez / Associated Press)

USC won last week, but it might have lost a shot at bowl eligibility in the process. Star wide receiver Drake London suffered a season-ending ankle injury and the Trojans will have to adjust to life without their best offensive player to take on Arizona State at Sun Devil Stadium on Saturday night.

The Trojans will be underdogs in each of their four remaining games and need to win two of them to be eligible for a bowl game on their own merits. If there aren’t enough teams with six wins, the Trojans could be picked for one if they have five wins, but that seems like a long shot.

USC will have to take it one game at a time and it starts this week in Tempe.

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USC Trojans at Arizona State Sun Devils (-8.5, 59)

The disappointment about USC’s season started early and was a carryover from previous seasons. The disappointment with Arizona State ’s season is a pretty new development. All of the sudden, the Sun Devils have gone from South Division favorites to suffering back-to-back losses against Utah and Washington State. The Utah loss is especially important for tiebreaker purposes in the division.

Arizona State was minus-four in turnover margin last week in the 34-21 loss to Washington State at home. The Sun Devils scored 14 of their 21 points in garbage time. Against Utah the week before, Arizona State led 21-7 at halftime but gave up 28 unanswered points to lose for the first time in conference play.

Less than two months after the end of his tenure as USC’s head coach, Clay Helton was named the coach at Georgia Southern.

From a statistical standpoint, ASU should be better than a 5-3 team. The Sun Devils entered this week 15th in yards per play on offense, 32nd in yards per play on defense and 10th in yards per play differential against FBS opponents. That type of profile would normally have the Sun Devils in contention for being ranked, not for being a team that looks destined for a lower-tier bowl game.

The Sun Devils might be in a good spot here, though, as the London injury looms large for the Trojans. The potential first-round pick accounted for over 40% of USC’s receptions and over 43% of the team’s receiving yards. As it is, quarterback Kedon Slovis hasn’t played as well as expected and now his safety net and far and away most popular target is sidelined.

London had 88 catches and was hurt on a touchdown grab against Arizona . His 1,084 receiving yards are more than 2.5 times more than the next closest pass-catcher, who is Tahj Washington with 396.

The initial college football rankings are sure to upset a lot of teams, most notably Luke Fickell’s Bearcats at Cincinnati. But that could benefit the Trojans.

It seems as if USC will have an near-impossible time adjusting to this loss. Maybe we’ll see more of Keontay Ingram and the running game, but with a defense giving up more than six yards per play, USC’s ability to outscore teams has taken a serious hit. Arizona State was a positive regression team to begin with and the Sun Devils seem to be catching USC at the right time.

Pick: Arizona State -8.5

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