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Pac-12 – USC at Arizona State Odds, Preview and Pick

USC Trojans (6-1) @ ASU Sun Devils (4-3)

  • Where: Sun Devil Stadium. Tempe, AZ
  • When: October 28, 2017 10:45 pm EST
  • Spread: USC (-3.5) at ASU (+3.5)
  • Moneyline: USC (-165) vs ASU (+145)
  • Over / Under: Over 59 (-110) vs Under 59 (-110)

Imagine that, for whatever reason, Notre Dame joins the Pac-12. In their 1st season as an unlikely west coast conference team, the Irish have a slow start. But soon they beat 3 storied contenders from their league in 4 weeks, while coming close to beating Stanford. An upset of 5th-ranked Washington is followed by a 30-10 beat-down of Utah, placing them 2nd in division standings and trending up.

Would UND be ranked, or at least highly-touted? One thing’s for sure, the next ESPN broadcast wouldn’t begin and end with their opponent. The Golden Dome would be the first camera shot, way up in the clouds. Probably spinning like a hubcap or something.

But Arizona State isn’t Notre Dame. That’s why, despite having exactly the accomplishments we just listed, the 4-3 Sun Devils are not the main story going into Saturday’s match-up with USC. The Trojans are, despite getting absolutely blistered last week by…you guessed it…Notre Dame.

Bookies are more immune to shallow hype than money-program pundits on TV. But are they completely immune? ASU has simply looked better than Southern Cal for the past 2 weeks, but are 3 to 4-point underdogs at home against the disappointed Trojans.

Climbing toward the sun

Early in the season, it’s not always so easy to tell if a team is improving. Football is a relative sport. For instance, we thought Air Force might be a Mountain West title contender after they fought and scrapped with Jim Harbaugh’s Michigan squad for 4 quarters. A few weeks later, and Harbaugh’s seat is getting warm as the Wolverines have shown a lack of depth and resolve against the Big Ten.

But after 7 or 8 weeks, it’s easier to see a learning curve. ASU looked hapless at times against SDSU and Texas Tech in Weeks 2 and 3. But the following Saturday, Manny Wilkins passed for almost 350 yards as the Sun Devils removed Oregon from the unbeaten ranks in a 37-35 win. 2 weeks later, the Arizona State defense put on a clinic against the Washington Huskies, holding Jake Browning to less than 150 yards passing and sacking him 5 times as the ‘Devils won 13-7.

ASU has had its own issues on offense, namely trying to run the ball successfully in a generic read-option scheme. But the team’s collective 3.1 ypc average may improve quickly if last Saturday was an indication. The Sun Devils rushed for over 200 yards in a 20-point win over Utah, senior Demario Richard leading the way.

Disappointing Darnold

As for the Trojans, a 4-0 start ignited their fan base and caused more of a stir in L.A. than the Rams and Chargers put together. A Week 2 win over Stanford was very impressive. But USC has played 2 ranked opponents since then, and given up 79 points while losing both of those games.

Sam Darnold had a great finish in 2016-17 but has been prone to interceptions this year. The Trojans must now protect Darnold against a burgeoning edge-rush of the Sun Devils.

USC’s ground game has been healthy, but Brian Kelly’s team stunted them – the Trojans were held to 2.5 yards per carry in last week’s 49-14 debacle in South Bend.

What and where to wager

Place a bet on ASU (+145) to beat the USC Trojans and get a 50% sign-up gift from Bovada Sportsbook.

 

Arizona State has a 60% to 65% chance to win ATS and is also a quality SU upset pick. The pass rush will be aided by a noisy crowd at Sun Devil Stadium, and Darnold will make mistakes if falling behind.

USC’s best chance to win is to get an early lead and quiet the venue with a churning ground game, which means that there is also value in the Under (59).

But ASU doesn’t need a big hubcap in the sky, or a lot of attention from ESPN to be a good football team. They’re likely to take USC down another peg on Saturday night.

Kurt BoyerThis article was written by Kurt Boyer

A freelance sportswriter from Missouri, Kurt has covered court, gridiron, rink and ring for 10+ years. He muses about High School football on social media as The Gridiron Geek.


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