Can Utah Buck Home Cover Trend in USC Series?

Wednesday, October 11, 2017 1:12 PM UTC

Wednesday, Oct. 11, 2017 1:12 PM UTC

Neither USC nor Utah can afford a second conference loss in the Pac-12 race, and it’s the Trojans who are favored on the NCAA football odds to avoid it Saturday in L.A.

<p style="text-align:right"><em><strong>NCAAF Season Record: 15-20-1 (-6.30)</strong></em></p><p>One team has been a cover machine the first half of the season, and the other a bit of a nightmare for college football bettors. They each also have just one loss, leaving their conference – if not national – aspirations intact. That’s the backdrop for a key Pac-12 matchup at the LA Coliseum between the Utah Utes and No. 13 USC Trojans on Saturday (8 PM ET). ABC has the telecast and <a href="" title="SBR's Top Sports Books">Heritage</a> has SoCal backers laying 13 with 53-54 available for totals bettors.</p><p>Utah is coming off its first defeat, a tough 23-20 setback at home to Stanford. The Utes officially closed as 3-point underdogs to push the final score, but early backers of Kyle Whittingham’s gang had enough to cover for the 5th straight week. Southern Cal bounced back from an upset loss to Washington State with a win vs. Oregon this past weekend, yet failed to cover for the 5th time in six games. Ironically, the Trojans’ only victory against the spread came over Stanford.</p><p> </p><h2><strong>Trojans Have To Establish The Run Early</strong></h2><p>Not beating the final number on <a href="" title="Live College Football Odds">NCAA football odds</a> boards wasn’t the most telling stat in last week’s loss to Stanford. The defeat also marked the second consecutive conference tilt with a porous run defense for Utah after that unit looked to be the team’s strength the first three games. Stanford almost got to the 200-yard plateau on the ground, clipping off gallops of better than six yards on average. This isn’t a super-duper USC ground game, but it’s good enough.</p><p>The Utes will still be without first-string QB Tyler Huntley, and Troy Williams hasn’t exactly looked like an ample replacement the last six quarters. Southern Cal could use its own hyped signal-caller, Sam Darnold, to get the offense rolling more consistently with fewer turnovers. Darnold wasn’t perfect last week in beating the Ducks, though he was better than the week before vs. the Cougars, and needs to trust in his ground game to open up passing lanes.</p><p> </p><h2><strong>Rivalry Trends, Final Thoughts &amp; A Free Pick</strong></h2><p>They met more than 100 years ago for the first time, yet it’s still a new rivalry as conference foes for Utah and Southern Cal. The Trojans have won 4 of 6 since the Utes joined the Pac-12, but it’s Utah with current bragging rights following last year’s rally for a 31-27 decision in Salt Lake City as 2½-point chalk. Home teams covered the last six, ‘over’ bettors cashing the last two.</p><p>Clear skies, the thermometer around 80° for the 5 PM local time boot and not enough wind to mention is the forecast. If Darnold and the Trojans play up to their preseason hype, they can walk away with a 3-TD margin of victory. But despite Utah’s leaky run defense, I’m taking the visitors plus the points for my <a href="" title="Free NCAA Football Odds">free college football pick</a>.</p><h2 style="text-align:center"><strong>Free NCAAF Pick: Utah +13</strong></h2><h2 style="text-align:center"><strong>Best Line Offered: <a href=";book=Heritage" rel="nofollow">Heritage </a></strong></h2><p>[/]{"component":"oddswidget", "eventId":3188147, "sportsbooksIds":[169,19,1275,180,999996], "LineTypeId":1, "PeriodTypeId":1 }[/]</p>
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