College Football Picks: Bet Washington +16.5 as USC Looks Ahead to their Next 2 Opponents

Willie Bee

Monday, October 5, 2015 12:53 PM UTC

Monday, Oct. 5, 2015 12:53 PM UTC

A Thursday Pac-12 matchup is our kickoff for Week 6 college football picks and previews, and the USC Trojans are decided favorites for their home tilt against Washington.

Several teams from the Pac-12 took last week off, which might have been a good thing considering the frequency of upsets. The USC Trojans were among them, and now they have a short week to prepare for their conference clash with the Washington Huskies.

Washington and USC boot the pigskin at 9 PM (ET) Thursday, the second half of ESPN's twinbill that begins with SMU at Houston in an AAC clash. The matchup at LA's Memorial Coliseum opened with the Trojans laying 17 on the College Football Odds, that number now down to 16½ at Bookmaker. No total has come out yet, and it should be an interesting number to see once it is released since the collision features two of the nation's top 25 teams in scoring defense.

The rivalry dates to 1923 when the schools were part of the old Pacific Coast Conference. Washington won that first meeting, but the series has been dominated by USC to the tune of a 50-28-4 record. It has been three seasons since they last met, the Trojans winning the last two while the squads split against the spread.

'Under' bettors have also dominated in recent years, six of the last nine clashes never reaching the total along with one push. One of the two 'over' winners in that span came in 2010 on this field, also Washington's last win in the series, a 32-31 upset as 9½ point underdogs of then-No. 18 USC, the final just skipping past a 59½ point total.


U-Dub Defense Shredded By Cal In Latest Loss
Washington (2-2 straight up, 3-1 against the spread) also enjoyed last week off, giving Chris Petersen's group a little extra time to absorb a tough 30-24 defeat to California in Week 4. The Trojans represent the second ranked team the Huskies have taken on in 2015, the other resulting in a 16-13 loss at Petersen's former school Boise State in the season opener.

Favored by a one point vs. Cal at home two weeks ago, Washington fell behind early then saw its rally attempt come up short against what has been a surprising Bears bunch to date. The Huskies committed five turnover, three of them fumbles, and were almost doubled-up by California in time of possession, allowing the Bears to convert 10-of-20 third downs.

Washington entered that game with one of the top overall defenses, and still ranks 17th in the country allowing 15.8 points per game. Cal's 30 points equaled what the Huskies had allowed in their first three games, and the Bears rang up more than 480 yards of offense against a stop unit that had been surrendering just 267 a game.

It's a stop unit that might be without safety Budda Baker a 2nd-straight game. The sophomore, also a key cog on special teams, is questionable with an ankle injury he suffered in a Week 3 win vs. Utah State.


Trojans Need Win To Keep Pace With Utes
Southern Cal (3-1 SU, 3-1 ATS) saw its Pac-12 championship chances bruised by a 41-31 setback to Stanford two weeks ago, but Steve Sarkisian's side rebounded with an impressive 42-14 victory at Arizona State. Trojans quarterback Cody Kessler directed the offense with 475 yards passing and five scoring tosses, four of them coming in the first half as USC built a 35-zip halftime lead.

Two of the TD passes went to sophomore wideout JuJu Smith-Schuster who leads the Trojans with 27 catches for 537 yards and six scores. Smith-Schuster is listed as probable for Thursday's game while dealing with some ongoing personal issues, but fellow wide receiver Darreus Rogers is questionable due to a hamstring injury.

There isn't anything in the current forecast to suggest trouble on the weather front, kickoff coming under partly cloudy skies and the thermometer sitting in the upper-70s. Southern Cal has the talent to cover this spread, but the danger is the team looking ahead to their next two opponents -- at Notre Dame and home against Utah -- as well as how long Sarkisian keeps his foot on the gas. I'm taking the underdog Huskies for my free college football pick.

My College Football Pick: Washington +16½ at Bookmaker.
Season: 3-2 (+0.8)

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