NCAAF Betting - Trojans vs Utes The Champions That Will Be Eliminated

Mitch Wishnowsky

Matthew Jordan

Wednesday, September 21, 2016 1:19 PM GMT

Wednesday, Sep. 21, 2016 1:19 PM GMT

The USC Trojans are defending Pac-12 South champions, but they are going to be all but eliminated from that race in 2016 with a loss Friday night at No. 24 Utah. The Utes are -3 on Heritage college football odds with a total of 46.5.

Helton Hiring A Mistake For USC?
The final  major decision that former USC athletic director Pat Haden made before stepping down was to give interim football coach Clay  Helton the full-time job two days after USC beat UCLA 40-21 in late November last year to reach the Pac-12 title game.

Haden  may have made a huge mistake. The Trojans closed last season with losses to Stanford (blowout) and Wisconsin and are just 1-2 this year. They were embarrassed Week 1 by Alabama and then dominated once again by the Cardinal last Saturday in a 27-10 defeat. New athletic director Lynn Swann might have to consider replacing Helton after this season if things don't turn around.

Helton is making a desperation move for this game in replacing starting quarterback Max Browne with redshirt freshman Sam Darnold. Browne was 18-for-28 for 191 yards in the loss to Stanford and was awful in the opener vs. the Tide. Darnold, who is much more mobile but less accurate as a passer, replaced Browne vs. the Cardinal and was 5-for-7 for 45 yards with a pick. Overall, Browne has completed 55 of 87 passes for 474 yards with two touchdowns, two interceptions and has been sacked six times. Darnold has completed 14 of 22 for 136 yards and two touchdowns with one interception and hasn't been sacked.

USC has one of the most electric talents in college football in receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster, a likely high draft pick next year. He was essentially invisible vs. the Tide and Cardinal. That guy needs to be getting double-digit touches per game.

The Trojans are 1-2 ATS on college football odds and 1-2 O/U.

 

Check Out The Best Online Sportsbook Bonuses Before Making Your Bets

 

Utes Get After The Passer
Utah (3-0) is a good defensive team, as usual, allowing a total of 36 points this season. The Utes were in a potential look-ahead game last week at San Jose State but won 34-17 to improve to 20-1 in non-conference contests since joining the Pac-12. Trailing 10-6 in the second quarter, Utah scored 28 unanswered points. That defense had 10 sacks, the most by any team in a game this year. Utah is No. 2 in the nation and leads the Pac-12 in total sacks (15) and sacks per game (5.00). Utah also has the nation's top punter in Mitch Wishnowsky. He leads the FBS in punt average (52.6 yards) and net punting average (48.2 yards). You might be wondering why I'm talking about a punter, but that's the type of team Utah is: win with field position and defense.

Receiver Cory Butler-Byrd was suspended the first two games, and made his debut vs. SJSU with five catches for 66 yards. In his first start and second college game, true freshman Zack Moss rushed for a team-high 95 yards and a touchdown vs. SJSU.

This will be Utah's first-ever conference game, in any conference, on a Friday in September. It's also a blackout game at sold-out Rice-Eccles stadium and Utah is 6-2 in blackout games previously. It beat visiting USC 24-21 in one back in 2014. Last year, Utah was 6-0 and ranked No. 3 in the country but lost at USC 42-24.

The Utes are 1-2 ATS and 1-2 O/U.

Utah and 'under.' USC is 1-5 ATS in its past six Pac-12 games. The home team has covered the past five in the series. The 'under' is 5-1 in Utah's past six at home and that is how I am going to choose my college football predictions.

 

NCAAF Free Picks: Under 46½
Best Line Offered: at Heritage

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