NCAA Football Predictions - California Bears vs USC Trojans - Week 9

USC Trojans Players Salute

Joe Catalano

Tuesday, October 25, 2016 7:34 PM UTC

Tuesday, Oct. 25, 2016 7:34 PM UTC

This Thursday, the Trojans face another stern test as they host the California Golden Bears (4-3, 2-2) in what's expected to be a very tight Pac-12 encounter. See who we like in this game as our college football pick.


According to 5Dimes Sportsbook, the Trojans are getting a ton of respect as they're a 15 1/2 point betting favorite in this matchup. No total is available yet but check with as game time draws nearer and the total should be listed very shortly.

At first glance, the Trojans appear to have their hands full as Cal has a high-powered offense that averages over 40 points per game in comparison to 28.3 points for USC, but let's not forget the two beatings that USC endured at the beginning of the season to Alabama and Stanford. This has a major influence on overall statistics and USC has definitely gotten back on track averaging 36.6 points per game in their last 3 wins and one of those wins being a hard fought 21-17 win over a tough Colorado team.

Defense should play a major role in this game. California is allowing over 40 points per contest while the Trojans defense has been quite stingy as of late, allowing just 17 points per game during their 3 games winning streak.


Ahead Of His Time

We all know that in order for a team to have any form of success, they need a competent quarterback. Freshman, Sam Darnold, has blended in quite well with the Trojans offense in his first year as a collegiate athlete. This is a quarterback that's not going to force the issue and commit careless turnovers which can change the complexion of a game.

For the season, Darnold has 13 TD's and 2 INT's. In his last 4 games, he's thrown for 235 yards or more, highlighted by his most recent effort, a 5 touchdown performance in a convincing 48-14 win on the road against Arizona. While Darnold is very talented, his offensive line has played a major role in his success as he's been sacked just 2 times. Look for Darnold to play well as he has a ton of momentum in his favor along with a lot of talent.


JuJu Smith-Schuster

While Darnold has played well, a lot of his success is attributed to the pass catching ability of junior wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster. Smith-Schuster is coming off of a huge sophomore season in which he gained 1454 yards and 10 TD's and he has another 1000 yard season in his sights this season as he's coming off of 3 consecutive games of 100 yards or more receiving. While the NFL is in his future, look for Smith-Schuster to find major success for the rest of the season and he should be a factor in this game as USC will need to put up points against a California team that averages 370 yards passing and over 40 points per game.


A Point Scoring Machine

For California and senior quarterback, Davis Webb, throwing for 5 touchdowns in a game is nothing out of the ordinary as Webb has thrown for 27 TD's to go along with 2581 yards for the season. Webb has thrown for 4 or more touchdowns in 6 out of his 7 starts this season. This including a 325 yard, 5 touchdown monster performance in a 52-49 double overtime win in Cal's last game against Oregon. This is California's 2nd consecutive overtime game and while their defense does allow a lot of points, their losses have come by small margins as California has been very competitive all season long.

The Golden Bears have a well-balanced offensive attack led by running back Khalfani Muhammad, who is coming off of two consecutive games of 148 yards or more rushing and the receiving ability of Chad Hansen (770 yard, 8 TD's). The problem for California is their defense as the betting odds indicate. Look for the USC defensive line to have an impact on this game while their offense runs up the score. Lay the points with the red-hot Trojans.


Free College Football Pick: USC Trojans -15.5 Best Line Offered: at 5Dimes

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