College Football Picks ATS - USC Trojans vs UCLA Bruins

USC Trojans

Willie Bee

Wednesday, November 16, 2016 2:40 PM UTC

Wednesday, Nov. 16, 2016 2:40 PM UTC

The 83rd meeting between the USC Trojans and UCLA Bruins is part of this week's college football betting card, and we've got a free pick for the Los Angeles showdown.

Season: 23-20-3 (+1.70)

Okay, so this year's contest between the USC Trojans and UCLA Bruins doesn't have the entire fate of the Pac-12 riding on the outcome. That doesn't mean the renewal of the rivalry doesn't have any importance.

The two old foes are on the late night card, ESPN's broadcast from the Rose Bowl starting at 10:30 PM (ET). BetOnline sent the Trojans out as 9 point favorites, that spread having climbed to 11 with signs it could go higher. As the spread has been going u, the total has dropped to 52½ after beginning a half-point higher.

A chance to stay in the Pac-12 Championship picture is what's on the line for USC. The Trojans will know at kickoff if a victory will give them the lead in the West Division over Colorado. If UCLA is going to get a bowl invite, the Bruins need to win this one and take next week's contest at Cal.

It's the Trojans with a sizeable advantage in the rivalry, USC up 45-31 with seven ties. A 3-game skid against UCLA was stopped last year with a 40-21 final in favor of USC at the Coliseum, that contest closing on a -3 line in favor of the home side. The Bruins had covered the three wins prior to that matchup, totals running 1-8-1 O/U/P that last 10.


Defense Has Been Key For USC Turning Things Around

Southern Cal (7-3 SU, 6-4 against the spread) has put that 1-3 start in its rearview mirror, Clay Helton's crew running off 6-straight wins while covering the NCAA football odds in  The Trojans looked dead in the water with an 0-2 start on the conference slate but have pushed their way back into contention behind a strong defense that is a big part of 6-straight 'unders' during the win streak.

They frustrated Washington's offense in handing the Huskies their first loss of the year a week ago, holding them to a season-low on the scoreboard with the 26-13 decision as 8½ point underdogs. USC has held four of the last six Pac-12 foes to under 100 yards rushing.

Meanwhile, in Westwood, Jim Mora and UCLA (4-6 SU & ATS) have suffered through a tough 2016 that certainly wasn't helped by the shoulder injury QB Josh Rosen suffered in early October. The Bruins have played pretty good defense statistically themselves, the 356 YPG average good enough for 26th nationally. Turnovers have been a huge issue, however, another three last Saturday though they managed to end a 4-game slide with a 38-24 home win over Oregon State.

 Beautiful Day Forecast For Pasadena

Each side has some injuries to be concerned with, beginning with the right side of UCLA's offensive line. Andre James, No. 1 on the depth chart at tackle, is questionable with a concussion while his backup, Kolton Miller is out with a bum ankle. For USC, nickel back Jonathan Lockett is in the questionable column with a hip injury.

Nothing in the weather will interfere with this one as a typically gorgeous day is being forecast. Look for the thermometer to be sitting around 60º at the boot and drop into the mid-50s as the game progresses under clear skies.

While I do like Southern Cal to end any hope for the Bruins to go bowling, I'm not inclined to lay the points. Let's ride the 'under' for our free college football pick.

Free College Football pick: Under 52½ Best Line Offered: at BetOnline

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