Week 3 Marquee Matchup: Daniels Leads No. 22 USC Against Texas

trojans

Jason Lake

Tuesday, September 11, 2018 1:40 PM UTC

Tuesday, Sep. 11, 2018 1:40 PM UTC

It’s always a blast when the USC Trojans meet the Texas Longhorns. However, the college football odds may be leaning a bit too heavily toward the 'Horns on Saturday.

Jason’s 2018-19 NCAAF picks record: 4-1 ATS (plus-3.00 units), 0-1 ML (minus-1.00 units)

No. 22 Southern California vs. TexasSaturday, 8 p.m. ET (FOX)Free NCAAF Pick: USCBest Line Offered: Bovada

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Well, that wasn’t too difficult, was it? We nailed all three of our Week 2 college football picks here at the home office – including last Saturday’s marquee matchup between the Clemson Tigers and the Texas A&M Aggies. Just like we wrote it up, Jimbo Fisher’s new team performed better than advertised, losing 28-26 as 12-point home dogs. The prolate spheroid was with us.

Let’s see what we have on the marquee for Week 3 ... ooh, it’s the No. 22 USC Trojans visiting the Texas Longhorns. Should be a beauty. The Trojans opened as 3.5-point road dogs on the NCAAF odds board, and that’s where they remained at press time. That could be a very important half-point.To the pickmobile!

The Number of the Counting Shall Be 3

Right on cue, here’s the ESPN Football Power Index projection for Saturday’s tilt, and how it translates to a vig-free moneyline (according to the SBR Odds Converter) and point spread (according to Wizard of Odds):

FPI: Texas 55.9 percent
SBR: Texas -127
WIZ: Texas -2

There you have it. If the football nerds are correct, USC is value pick at -3.5. It’s not the full 2-point gap we’d like to see between the projections and the market, but that gap includes the magic number 3, and nobody should be surprised if the Longhorns happen to win this game by a field goal. Each team is 1-1 SU and 0-2 ATS thus far, by the way, but USC has performed at a higher level, posting a plus-23.49 on the Simple Rating System at Sports Reference; Texas is at plus-17.66, including their 34-29 opening week loss to Maryland (+12.5) in Maryland.

I Recommend a Fifth of Jack

It’s too early to use those SRS numbers for our projections, but just for fun, take the difference between the two figures, give the Longhorns the standard three points for playing at home, and you get a kayfabe line of around ... let’s see, carry the one ... Texas +3. But then you also have to take another two points away from the 'Horns. According to the number-crunching ESPN’s Brad Edwards and Seth Walder did last year, Texas played at minus-2.01 Points Above Expectation at Royal Texas Memorial Stadium between 2005 and 2016 inclusive. Not good.

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I’m really curious if #USC fans thought JT Daniels was going to just walk on campus and light opponents up or what? How did you guys not expect this?

The Trinity League is great but college is kind of a HUGE step up. He’s gonna need time.

— Ryan Phillips (@RumorsandRants) September 9, 2018
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To be fair, Saturday’s game won’t have nearly the same talent level on display as the 2006 Rose Bowl. But while the Longhorns are still making the long climb back toward elite status, the Trojans are on the cusp with freshman quarterback JT Daniels taking over for Sam Darnold. Daniels didn’t get much done in last week’s 17-3 loss to Stanford (-4.5 at home), but that’s the Cardinal defense for you. If Texas can do the same, well, more power to them, but we’re not betting on it.

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