College Football Picks: Two Way Bet in USC Scrimmage Over Idaho

Matthew Jordan

Wednesday, September 9, 2015 12:51 AM UTC

Wednesday, Sep. 9, 2015 12:51 AM UTC

Did you know that Southern Cal has never played an FCS school? The Trojans might as well be playing one on Saturday when they host Idaho. USC is -43 on NCAA football odds with a total of 66.

Not Much Positive To Say About Idaho
Southern Cal is one of just three FBS schools to have never played an FCS one along with Notre Dame and UCLA. Idaho belongs in the FCS, frankly, and there's talk that the Vandals, who are now in the Sun Belt Conference,  might eventually drop down. They have finished with just one win each of the past three seasons. Last year that lone victory was against another horrid program in New Mexico State. The last time Idaho faced a Power 5 team, the Vandals were slaughtered 80-14 at No. 2 Florida State late in the 2013 season. Idaho will also visit Auburn late this season to cash another big check.

The Vandals, picked to finish last again in the Sun Belt, opened this season with a 45-24 home loss to Mid-American Conference school Ohio last Thursday. The Bobcats jumped out 21-0 late in the first quarter and that was that. Matt Linehan completed 36-for-48 passing for 297 yards with a touchdown and two picks for Idaho. Elijhaa Penny rushed for 69 yards and two scores on 17 carries. Dezmon Epps caught 15 of those Linehan passes for 160 yards; Epps missed all of last season due to suspension. Linebackers Marc Millan, Broc Westlake and Chris Edwards had seven tackles each to lead the defense.

Idaho is coached by Paul Petrino, the younger brother of Arkansas head coach Bobby. Idaho’s defense has gone to a 3-4 scheme after allowing more than 460 total yards and 37 points a year ago.


Trojans Take Care of Business
This will be the second straight Sun Belt foe for USC as it clobbered Arkansas Sate 55-6 last week. Heisman Trophy candidate and senior quarterback Cody Kessler passed for 246 yards and four touchdowns. He now has 43 TD passes and five interceptions in his last 14 games. Running back Tre Madden, who missed last season with an injury, rushed for 106 yards and a touchdown. Most of USC's starters sat out the fourth quarter.

It was USC's first game since the official end of NCAA scholarship restrictions on the program because of former Heisman winner Reggie Bush.

A total of 23 players made their USC debut in the game, including 13 true freshman. Tailbacks Ronald Jones, Aca’Cedric Ware and Dominic Davis each made their debut. Jones and Ware scored touchdowns. And Cameron Smith tied for the team lead in tackles (seven) and was the first true freshman to start at inside linebacker for the Trojans since Riki Gray (Ellison) in 1978. That USC defense held Arkansas State to its lowest point total since 2008.

About the only negative from the game as that Kessler was sacked five times and had a few overthrows of his receivers. USC coach Steve Sarkisian said there were a couple “blown assignments,” for the offensive line even though that group brought back every starter from last season. Also, electric receiver/cornerback/return man Adoree’ Jackson left the game in the first quarter after a punt return when he suffered an abdominal injury. It's not thought to be serious. Not like they need him this week.

That Arkansas State game was also the first for USC under Sarkisian where he wasn't  the offensive play-caller. Sarkisian relinquished play-calling this season to offensive coordinator Clay Helton. One thing Sarkisian did say afterward was that he wants USC to play faster. It ran only 64 plays against Arkansas State compared to 105 in its 2014 season opener against Fresno State.

USC and Idaho many years ago were both members of the Pacific Coast Conference. The schools last met in the 2007 season opener at the L.A. Coliseum, a 38-10 Trojans victory.


NCAAF Free Picks
Obviously which team wins this isn't up for debate. The question is when Sarkisian calls off the dogs and gets his starters out of there with the Pac-12 opener against Stanford next Saturday. USC should reach at least 50 again without breaking a sweat. For my college football pick I'll give the points and go 'over' the total. 

College Football Pick: USC & 'Over'

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