College Football Picks: Despite Injuries, USC Holds Home Advantage Over Arizona

Matthew Jordan

Tuesday, November 3, 2015 3:39 PM UTC

Tuesday, Nov. 3, 2015 3:39 PM UTC

The Pac-12 South defending champion Arizona can all but assure that USC doesn't win the South with an upset Saturday. Review the odds and get a free college football pick here with us.

Bowl Game Out Of Reach For UA?
Arizona (5-4, 2-4) has definitely been a disappointment this season, as only Colorado is keeping the Wildcats out of the South basement at the moment (Buffs are 1-4 in Pac-12). You hear rumors that Cats coach Rich Rodriguez might not be long for Tucson, as he reportedly prefers to be somewhere on the East Coast. Rich Rod has been linked to the Miami job and the Virginia Tech job, which just came open with the news that Hokies coach Frank Beamer will retire after this season. Rodriguez and current Virginia Tech athletic director Whit Babcock were together at West Virginia.

It's not yet clear which quarterback Rodriguez will start in this game. Anu Solomon was largely terrific last year as a freshman but that hasn't been the case this season. Solomon started in Saturday's 49-3 loss at Washington and led UA to a field goal on its first possession, but soon threw his first interception of the season and then his second. He had gone a school-record 232 passes without a pick. Solomon finished 18-for-31 for 160 yards and those two picks. Backup Jerrard Randall was 7-for-11 for 43 yards with an interception and rushed 11 times for 46. It was thought Randall might start that game. Arizona's 330 total yards were its second-fewest of the season. The Wildcats failed to score a touchdown for the first time since Sept. 22, 2012, at Oregon.

The Wildcats' top running back, Nick Wilson, didn't make the trip due to a knee injury and he's questionable for this week. He has only played briefly once in the last three games. Wilson has rushed 121 times for 691 yards and eight touchdowns. Jared Baker received most of the carries in place of Wilson against Washington and finished with 67 yards on 19 carries. The Cats also remain without linebacker Scooby Wright, who won nearly every national defensive award last season. He's probably not going to return in the regular season.

Arizona is 4-5 against the spread on college football odds this season and 7-2 'over/under.' The Cats might not even make a bowl game. Obviously, they are big underdogs here, then host No.13 Utah next week before closing at Arizona State. Good luck getting that sixth win.


Trojans Running More Under Helton
Southern Cal (5-3, 3-2) still has a shot at the South title. The Trojans are tied with UCLA, a game behind division leader Utah. USC holds the head-to-head tiebreaker with the Utes. The Trojans after this game travel to Colorado, visit Oregon and host UCLA. Utah is at Washington this week, visits Arizona next and closes vs. UCLA and Colorado.

USC is 2-1 since interim coach Clay Helton took over for the fired Steve Sarkisian. It won at Cal 27-21 on Saturday behind a strong defensive effort. Adoree Jackson returned an interception 46 yards for a touchdown. Cody Kessler was 18-for-22 for only 186 yards. USC's JuJu Smith-Schuster, the Pac-12's leading receiver, left that game early with a broken bone in his hand. He had surgery on Monday but hasn't yet been ruled out this week. He has 52 catches for 956 yards and eight touchdowns this season. No other USC receiver has as many as 20 catches, and the team's second-leading receiver is Jackson (19 catches), primarily a cornerback.

Probably the biggest change under Helton has been USC focusing more on running the ball. After averaging 33 rushes per game in the first six, the Trojans have totaled 95 rushes in the past two. They put up 185 yards on Cal with a three-headed monster of Tre Madden, Justin Davis and Ronald Jones. Each had at least 11 carries. Arizona is not a good defensive team, ranking 111th in yards allowed per game at 453.0. It is 93rd against the rush (173.3 ypg).

The Trojans are 5-3 against the spread on college football picks and 4-4 O/U at several sportsbooks.


Last Meeting
USC upset No.10 Arizona in Tucson last year 28-26, as Cats kicker Casey Skowron missed a 36-yard field goal wide right in the final seconds. It was his third missed field goal of the game. Wilson missed that game for Arizona. Solomon threw the ball a whopping 72 times and completed 43 for 395 yards and a touchdown. Kessler was 20-for-30 for 185 yards, a TD and a pick. USC has lost to Arizona just twice since 2001 and the Wildcats have won only four times ever at Southern Cal. The last eight matchups overall have all been decided by a touchdown or less.

No total listed yet because of the injuries and UA quarterback situation. Give the points even though the underdog has covered in nine of the past 10 meetings. Arizona is 2-7 ATS in its past nine after scoring 20 points or less in its previous game.

College Football Free Pick: USC -17 at BetOnline

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