College Football Picks: Utah State vs. USC

Jeff Grant

Thursday, September 19, 2013 1:21 PM UTC

Thursday, Sep. 19, 2013 1:21 PM UTC

The USC Trojans have played great defense in the early going this season, but that unit will be challenged in a big way against the Utah State Aggies Saturday.

Let’s take a closer look at the college football odds page for this non-conference matchup at the Los Angeles Coliseum, with the opening kickoff scheduled for 3:30 p.m. ET on ABC.

Dangerous underdog 

Utah State is certainly a dangerous underdog, as the program has won 18 of its last 22 games, including a 70-6 victory over Weber State as 39-point home favorites last Saturday.

The Aggies have played three road games against major BCS opponents in the previous three seasons—losing to Wisconsin, Auburn and Oklahoma by a combined 13 points in that situation. 

Since 2011, the program is 2-2 SU and 4-0 ATS as underdogs of 3.5 to 10 points, with the UNDER going 3-1 in those four opportunities.

Falling into a pattern?

USC has alternated wins and losses over its first three games, as it picked up a 35-7 victory over Boston College as 14.5-point home favorites in Week 3, while going UNDER the total in each of those contests.

The Trojans are 4-0 SU all-time against the Aggies—winning those games by an average of 46 points.

Putting up numbers

College football handicappers will find that the Aggies have totaled 500 or more yards in seven of their last nine games, with junior quarterback Chuckie Keeton leading the way.

He ranks third on the school’s all-time list with 6,595 career yards of total offense, while throwing for 300-plus yards in five of his last eight games dating back to last season.

Utah State entered the season as the second most experienced team among BCS schools, which can’t be ignored when making your college football predictions in Week 4.

A major turnaround

There’s no doubt that USC’s defense is much improved this year, as it ranks in the Top 10 nationally in rushing defense, sacks, total defense, 

interceptions and scoring defense.

First-year coordinator Clancy Pendergast installed a new 5-2 scheme with seven starters returning on that side of the ball, including three linebackers that have served in that type of role in the previous two seasons.

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I’m going to recommend that readers play the total for their college football picks, as the OVER is 5-0 in the Aggies’ last five road games.

College Football Pick: Over 51.5 at bet365

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