Fresno State vs. USC Odds, Picks: Betting Guide to Massive Saturday Night West Coast Clash

Fresno State vs. USC Odds, Picks: Betting Guide to Massive Saturday Night West Coast Clash article feature image

Michael Owens/Getty Images. Pictured: Jake Haener #9 of the Fresno State Bulldogs.

  • Jake Haener vs. Caleb Williams. Jalen Cropper vs. Jordan Addison. Fresno State vs. USC!
  • Fresno State takes on USC in an elite college football Week 3 duel on Saturday evening.
  • How are we betting this West Coast clash? Brad Cunningham has you covered below with odds, picks and predictions.

Fresno State vs. USC Odds

Saturday, Sept. 17
10:30 p.m. ET
Fresno State Odds
-115o / -105u
USC Odds
-115o / -105u
Odds via FanDuel. Get up-to-the-minute college football odds here.

USC looks to remain perfect heading into Pac-12 play when it hosts Fresno State.

Fresno State lost a heartbreaker at the buzzer in Week 2 to Oregon State at home, but is poised to contend for the Mountain West title after 10-3 season in 2021 and with its star quarterback Jake Haener under center.

USC has all of the glitz and glamour with Lincoln Riley, Caleb Williams, Jordan Addison and Travis Dye. But let's not forget, this team went 4-8 last season, so suddenly making the transition into being one of college football's premier programs isn't going to happen overnight.

A 41-28 road win over Stanford helps, but the Trojans will need to refocus or they will get tripped up by a really good Fresno State team.

Fresno State Bulldogs

Bulldogs Offense

Haener put up incredible numbers in a pass-happy offense last season. Haener had a 80.2 PFF passing grade, averaged 8.4 yards per attempt and threw for 33 touchdowns.

Not to mention he has his top two pass catchers back in Jalen Cropper and Josh Kelly, as those two combined for 137 catches, 1,677 receiving yards and 14 touchdowns. This was the seventh-best passing attack in college football in terms of Success Rate in 2021.

This is ridiculous from Jake Haener

— Cam Mellor (@CamMellor) September 11, 2022

Jordan Mims is now set to take over as the lead back with leading rusher from 2021, Ronnie Rivers, moving on — a net positive for Fresno State considering Mims led the team by averaging 5.6 yards per carry and posting a 86.9 PFF rushing grade.

Mims showed why he deserves to be the lead back in the opener against Oregon State, rushing for 122 yards on 21 carries and two touchdowns.

Bulldogs Defense

The Fresno State defense was outstanding in 2021.

The Bulldogs finished the season 11th in Success Rate Allowed, 40th in points per opportunity allowed and 28th in Havoc, while also only allowing 5.2 yards per play.

Fresno State lost two starters on its defensive line, so it likely won't be top-25 in Defensive Line Yards and Stuff Rate this year like it was in 2021.

However, the Bulldogs return their entire linebacking corps and added a very talented transfer from … thats right … USC in Raymond Scott, who was a four-star recruit out of high school.

The secondary is where Fresno State is going to excel this season. The Bulldogs ranked seventh nationally in Passing Success Rate Allowed a season ago and returned their best defensive back, Evan Williams, who led the team with 92 tackles, six pass breakups and three interceptions.

They have a chance to slow down USC's high-powered offense.

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USC Trojans

Trojans Offense

There is no denying that USC has one of the most talented offenses in college football.

Last season, Williams had a 90.3 PFF passing grade at Oklahoma with 21 touchdowns and four interceptions. He played a flawless game against Stanford, averaging 12.6 yards per attempt and throwing for four touchdowns.

It helps when the Biletnikoff Award winner transfers in to become your No. 1 target. Addison is immensely difficult to guard. Stanford had no answers for him, as he went for 172 yards on seven catches and two touchdowns.


— ESPN College Football (@ESPNCFB) September 11, 2022

USC also brought in Dye from Oregon via the transfer portal, making this offense even more freighting. Dye rushed for 105 rushing yards on 14 carries against Stanford last Saturday and averaged 6.0 yards per carry at Oregon last season.

USC’s offense line opens up a huge lane for Travis Dye, who takes it to the house. USC 35, Stanford 14

— Keely Eure (@keelyismyname) September 11, 2022

USC also has 109 starts back on the offensive line.

It's going to be a long night for Fresno State's defense.

Trojans Defense

There are concerns on the defensive side of the ball. USC returns four starters from last season, with its front seven being extremely thin.

The defensive line returns one starter with a handful of non-impact transfers, while the linebacking corps brings back just one starter and loses its top tackler in Kana'i Mauga.

The Trojans did add Alabama transfer Shane Lee — which will have an immediate impact — but this was a defense that ranked 117th in EPA/Play and allowed 5.8 yards per play.

Riley brought over Alex Grinch from Oklahoma to be his defensive coordinator, which means USC switched to an entirely new 3-4 system that has been dubbed "Speed D." Well, "Speed D" at Oklahoma finished 89th in EPA/Play last year.

Even though they beat Stanford 41-28, the Cardinal were able to average 5.5 yards per play, had six drives finish inside the the USC 40-yard line (scored 28 points) and had a 59% Standard Down Success Rate. Also, Stanford turned the ball over inside the five-yard line twice.

Now the Trojans are going up against maybe the best Group of Five quarterback in Haener, so I am concerned with how USC is going to stop Fresno State if Stanford was able to put up those numbers against the Trojans.

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Fresno State vs. USC Matchup Analysis

Toggle the dropdowns below to hide or show how Fresno State and USC match up statistically:

Fresno State Offense vs. USC Defense
Rush Success452
Line Yards2382
Pass Success1642
Pass Blocking**6338
Finishing Drives7866
** Pass Blocking (Off.) vs. Pass Rush (Def.)

USC Offense vs. Fresno State Defense
Rush Success2822
Line Yards1151
Pass Success843
Pass Blocking**1980
Finishing Drives52110
** Pass Blocking (Off.) vs. Pass Rush (Def.)

Pace of Play / Other
PFF Tackling943
PFF Coverage8244
SP+ Special Teams72113
Seconds per Play26.4 (66)28.6 (108)
Rush Rate40.8% (117)52.9% (64)
Data via (CFBD), FootballOutsiders, SP+, Pro Football Focus and SportSource Analytics.

Fresno State vs. USC Betting Pick

Fresno State can definitely hang in this game given USC's changes on defense, along with the fact that Haener has his top two targets back from a top-10 Passing Success Rate offense.

Fresno State's secondary had the 15th-best coverage grade in college football in 2021, per PFF. With three starters back, it won't be as easy as it was last Saturday for Williams and Addison.

I only have USC projected at -3.5, so I love the value on Fresno State at +12.5, and I would play it down to +7.5.

Pick: Fresno State +7.5

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