USC -14.5 vs. California for Thursday's College Football Picks

Jeff Grant

Tuesday, November 11, 2014 4:11 PM GMT

USC has dominated California in their Pac-12 series over the last decade, which makes it a top college football pick Thursday at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum.

Needing a Win
California is trying to become bowl eligible for the first time since 2011, which is important to consider when looking over the Week 12 College Football Odds, while it aims to snap a 10-game losing streak in this in-state rivalry.

With five wins in their first nine games this year, the Golden Bears have already enjoyed a four-game turnaround from last year under head coach Sonny Dykes, as they look to win back-to-back contests in conference play for the second time.

Over the last two-plus seasons, the program is 4-21 SU and 9-16 ATS as underdogs, with the OVER going 13-11-1 in that situation.

 

Starting Fast
USC has put together a respectable 6-3 SUATS record through its first nine games of the Steve Sarkisian era, which can’t be ignored when making your College Football Picks, as its three losses have come by a combined 13 points.

The Trojans have the ability to put away the Bears early on in this Pac-12 Conference matchup, as they rank third nationally with a plus-88 scoring margin in the first quarter. It’s important to point out that the school is 8-3 SU and 5-6 ATS in its last 11 opportunities as favorites of 10.5 to 21 points.

 

Explosive Offense
The Golden Bears are certainly capable of scoring points on any defense, as they rank eighth nationally in averaging 41.9 points, with most of that success being attributed to their passing game.

Sophomore quarterback Jared Goff sits behind just three players in throwing for 3,119 yards and 27 touchdowns this season, while he completed 35-of-49 passes for 260 yards and three touchdowns in last year’s 62-28 loss in last year’s meeting.

Want more action? Check out this capper's Picks for Kent St. vs. Bowling Green on Wednesday

Turnover Margin
The Trojans are eighth in the country in turnover margin, as signal-caller Cody Kessler does a great job of protecting the football—tossing 25 touchdowns versus just two interceptions through nine games.

USC has a great opportunity to shut down California’s high-scoring attack, as it leads the Pac-12 in red zone defense, while it hasn’t allowed an opponent to score on its opening drive this season.

 

Prediction
I’m going to recommend that readers back the Trojans as one of their top College Football Picks, as the favorite has covered the number in the last five installments of this series.

Free College Football Pick:  USC Trojans -14.5 at Pinnacle