Slight Edge on Home Team for USC vs. Utah College Football Picks

Jeff Grant

Wednesday, October 22, 2014 2:41 PM GMT

The USC Trojans have struggled to stop the run on the road this season, which makes the Utah Utes an attractive college football pick Saturday night.

Atop the Standings
USC occupies the top spot in the Pac-12 Conference South division, as it comes off a 56-28 victory over the Colorado Buffaloes as 19.5-point home favorites, while winning the statistical battle for just the second time in its last six contests.

The Trojans have received steady play from quarterback Cody Kessler throughout the season, which is important to consider when making your Week 9 college football picks, as he’s thrown for 18 touchdowns and just a single interception.

Over the last two-plus seasons, the program is 8-6 SU and 4-10 ATS on the road, with no clear edge in terms of the betting total (7-7 Over/Under).

 

Unbalanced Offensively
Utah ranks second-to-last in the Pac-12 in averaging 191.8 passing yards per game, which can’t be ignored when looking over the college football odds page, but the team does possess one of the best running backs in the country.

Devontae Booker is gaining 123.7 yards per contest on the ground in 2014—ranking just behind USC’s Javorius Allen in that all-important statistical category when formulating your pick in this smash mouth affair.

It’s important to point out that the school has covered the number in four of its last five games as home underdogs under 10-year head coach Kyle Whittingham.

 

Controlling the Series
The Trojans own a 9-3 SU advantage in this series against the Utes, as they’ve won all three meetings as Pac-12 rivals, including a 19-3 victory as five-point home favorites last year.

USC held Utah to a season-low 201 yards in that matchup, while Kessler performed well under center—completing 21 of 32 passes for 230 yards and a touchdown.

 

Getting After Quarterbacks
The Utes lead the nation in sacks (5.5) and tackles for loss (10.2) per game, as they look to improve their record to 5-2 in Blackout games at Rice-Eccles Stadium in Salt Lake City.

Senior defensive end Nate Orchard is the main player to watch, as he’s played in all 43 games with 29 starts since arriving on campus as a freshman, while he ranks second in the country with 10.5 total sacks.

 

Prediction
I’m going to recommend that readers back the Utes as one of their Week 9  picks, as they’e covered the number in seven of their last 10 home games versus a team with a winning road record.

Utah’s special teams will prove to be the difference, as it ranks third in kick return and seventh in punt return average, while Tom Hackett leads the nation in net punting.

College Football Pick:  Utah Utes +1 at 5Dimes

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