College Football Odds & Picks for Arizona State vs. USC: Betting Value on Trojans and Sun Devils
Brian Rothmuller/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images. Pictured: Kana’i Mauga (26) and Marlon Tuipulotu (51).
- Arizona State travels to California on Saturday to open the Pac-12 season against USC.
- But with a 9 a.m. local start time, what should we expect heading into the matchup.
- Mike Ianniello and Ace DeCardano break it down, making cases for both sides.
Arizona State vs. USC Odds
|Arizona State Odds||+11.5 [BET NOW]|
|USC Odds||-11.5 [BET NOW]|
|Moneyline||+310/-411 [BET NOW]|
|Over/Under||55.5 [BET NOW]|
|Time||Saturday, 12 p.m. ET|
The Case For Arizona State
The game starts at 9 a.m. Who would you rather have than Herm Edwards leading a group of young men at such an absurdly early start time? More importantly, who else would you want less as a commissioner than the Pac-12’s Larry Scott? I suppose a 12:30 local kick when you could look out for player safety and showcase your marquee matchup in the coveted 3:30 p.m. ET window makes too much sense.
But I digress…
In all seriousness, I really do believe Edwards’ mentality is a factor in the game. His 4 a.m. workouts are the stuff of legends. His charismatic, walk-the-walk attitude stressing leadership, preparedness, and accountability is a major reason why his teams are always dangerous right out of the gate. This is evident in his 6-3 record SU and ATS September record in Tempe.
Some Pac-12 coaches have complained about the 9 a.m. kickoff. Edwards chooses to adapt and overcome.
On Saturday, Edwards will bring with him a talented group of Sun Devils picked to finish second to USC in the PAC-12 South. ASU returns nine starters on a defense that was embarrassed while falling behind 28-7 in the first quarter of last year’s contest against the Trojans. However, it allowed only a field goal the rest of the way. Unfortunately for Arizona State, the Sun Devil comeback fell short, 31-26, but this effort is an example of how the team handles adversity.
Arizona State also played this game without star quarterback Jayden Daniels (20 total touchdowns and only two interceptions as a freshman), who was out with a knee injury. Daniels is fully healthy. He might need to be as he faces a talented, but thus far underachieving, USC defensive line that returns almost everyone.
However, the defense in Troy wasn’t very impressive last season (76th in FBS with 408.1 yards per game allowed in 2019). Defensive coordinator Clancy Pendergast and defensive line coach Chad Kauha’aha’a were fired, leaving the team in transition.
Full practices didn’t begin until October. Have the new coaches had enough time to implement their systems? You would think Daniels should be able to exploit this team and make some big plays that will keep this game close at the very least.
The Case For USC
The coffee pot is full, the bacon and eggs are sizzling and the Pac-12 season will kick off with a little breakfast ball at 9 a.m. PT with a serving of arguably the two best quarterbacks in the conference.
USC’s Kedon Slovis and Arizona State’s Jayden Daniels are entering their second seasons after bursting onto the scene last year as true freshmen. Daniels’ incredible freshman season was only outshined by the year Slovis put together in Los Angeles to win the Pac-12 Offensive Freshman of the Year honor.
The biggest strength for Slovis is his incredible accuracy. His 71.9% completion percentage last season set a Pac-12 season record (minimum 350 attempts), eclipsing the 71.3% mark set by Andrew Luck in 2011. No quarterback in the entire country had a lower uncatchable pass rate than Slovis. He finished his true freshman season ranking in the top 10 nationally in completion percentage, passing efficiency, completions and passing yards.
USC is absolutely loaded on offense, not just with Slovis returning. A Trojans offense that ranked No. 9 in the country in offensive success now returns eight starters and three of its top four pass-catchers from last season for what will be the best receiving group in the conference.
Amon-Ra St. Brown and Tyler Vaughns each caught six touchdowns last year and went for 1,042 and 912 yards, respectively. While Graham Harrell’s offense is not known for running the ball, the Trojans also return their top four rushers from last season behind an offensive line loaded with experience.
Returning to the USC defense will be 11 of its top 13 tacklers, including its 2019 leaders in sacks, tackles for loss, interceptions, pass deflections and forced fumbles.
In total, the Trojans will return 82% of their returning production from last season, the fifth-most in the country. Arizona State will return just 63% of production and only 50% on offense, highlighted by the loss of star running back Eno Benjamin and receiver Brandon Aiyuk.
There is no denying that Daniels is a star in the making if he’s not already a star. But he just does not have enough experience or talent around him to compete with this Trojans team.
USC has a superstar quarterback of its own and is the 10th-most talented team in the entire country, compared to the Sun Devils, who rank 20 spots lower. SP+, which is intended to be predictive, has the USC offense ranked No. 8 in the nation and the Trojans at No. 15 overall. Arizona State ranks No. 35 and just 76th on offense.
Slovis absolutely lit up the Sun Devils in last year’s meeting between these two teams. While Daniels missed the game with an injury, Slovis put on a show, going 29-of-39 for 432 yards and four touchdowns. The 31-26 final score might show a close game, but the Trojans came out and scored on their first four possessions — all touchdowns passes from Slovis.
USC was guilty of taking its foot off the gas, which allowed Arizona State to fight back into the game. But a lot of that was with Slovis out of the game battling cramps in his leg.
It might be tough for the Trojans to get off to such a fast start this year given the early kickoff, and we could see some sleepwalking and sloppy play from both sides early in this one. But USC is just a better team, and all its returning experience will take over here. Once halftime hits and the morning coffee kicks in for the Trojans, they should take off and pull away comfortably.
|Check out our new College Football PRO Report, where we highlight factors that provide betting edges — like large wagers, historically profitable betting systems, model projections and expert picks — that when combined with sharp money can powerfully detail the smartest bets on a given slate.|
Arizona State Rebuttal
DeCardano: SP+ predicts the USC defense to be ranked 36th? I’d like to fade that prediction. I just don’t see the 76th-ranked defense getting new coaches, not practicing, and still becoming this much better. I especially don’t see it manifesting itself opening weekend. Add in the fact that Daniels doesn’t turn the ball over, and it’s going to be tough for this defense to win by double-digits.
It’s true that Aiyuk is no longer in the desert, but the Trojans will see a whole lot of Frank Darby on Saturday. If they’re not careful, they’ll be seeing the back of him. Daniels’ favorite deep threat caught eight touchdowns and averaged 19.9 yards per catch last season. He’ll look to build on this production as the leader of a deep wide receiver group.
Ianniello: The Pac-12 will not allow fans to attend games this season, which will minimize the home-field advantage for teams.
The one situation I think home field will actually come into play? Nine in the morning. Sleeping in your own bed and going through a routine you are familiar with could be a big advantage when you’re waking up at 5 a.m.
Clay Helton told CBS Sports Network this week that his team has been going through what their exact routine will be for the past couple of Saturday mornings to get used to it, and I think that will be a big advantage for them.
The Pac-12 players have waited 56 days to play football since other Power Five teams started playing. These two teams will be excited they don’t have to wait an extra four hours. They will be ready to play.
Betting Analysis & Picks
DeCardano: Edwards will have the Sun Devils ready to play. Daniels doesn’t turn the ball over, and he’ll lead the offense to enough points to cover the spread. Take Arizona State +10.5.
Ianniello: Arizona State ranked 72nd in Defensive Success Rate against passing plays last season. Slovis torched the Sun Devils’ secondary last year, and he will do it again Saturday morning. Take USC -10.5.