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College Football Odds & Picks for USC vs. Utah: Bet Against Both Teams by Taking the Under

College Football Odds & Picks for USC vs. Utah: Bet Against Both Teams by Taking the Under article feature image

Christian Petersen/Getty Images. Pictured: Kedon Slovis.

  • Pac-12 After Dark is finally here.
  • Utah hosts USC in an important conference matchup Saturday between two solid teams.
  • Matt Wispe breaks down the game and shares a betting pick based on his analysis below.

USC vs. Utah Odds

USC Odds -2 [BET NOW]
Utah Odds +2 [BET NOW]
Moneyline -124/+102 [BET NOW]
Over/Under 57.5 [BET NOW]
Time 10:30 p.m. ET
Odds as of Thursday evening and via DraftKings. Get up to a $1,000 sign-up bonus at DraftKings today or see more offers and reviews for the best online sportsbooks.

USC enters its matchup against Utah on a two-game winning streak after dispatching both Arizona schools, albeit in somewhat disappointing fashion. The Trojans have yet to cover the spread or eclipse the total despite having an established quarterback and one of the top wide receiver rooms in the country.

Meanwhile, Utah will be making its season debut after back-to-back cancellations. Kyle Whittingham enters his 16th season as the Utes head coach following an 11-3 season that saw the Utes contend for a Pac-12 championship.

Whittingham will have to rebuild his team after losing his starting quarterback and bell-cow running back. The Utes also must replace most of their formidable 2019 defense that allowed the sixth-fewest points per game in FBS.

USC’s struggles to put up points against Arizona and Arizona State point to the value in this matchup. And given Utah’s team overhaul, points look like they’ll be at a premium in this game.

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USC Trojans

USC might be 2-0, but neither of its wins have been particularly impressive, especially when you consider the spread for each game. The win against Arizona State appears to be a fluke, as the Trojans finished with a 17% post-game win expectancy. Their post-game win expectancy in the win against Arizona was only 56%.

Announcers speculated that there may be a minor injury hindering quarterback Kedon Slovis, but there has been no confirmation from the program that Slovis is dealing with any kind of injury. It’s impossible to say that the passing game is completely struggling, because USC is averaging 353 passing yards per game and has only thrown one interception.

However, given the weapons available at the skill positions and the Trojans’ offensive scheme, it feels like there’s something missing in the passing game. That missing piece is particularly impactful, because USC’s passing attack was expected to be the strength of the offense. The Trojans report a passing success rate of 41.7% and are only averaging 7.1 yards per attempt.

The running game was expected to be the weaker part of the offense, but it has played above expectations. The Trojans have a rushing success rate of 49.2% and are averaging 4.8 yards per rush attempt. Five of the team’s eight total touchdowns have come on the ground.

Offensive line appears to be a concern as the Trojans have allowed 7.5 tackles for a loss per game. The line is generating just 2.81 line yards per rush attempt and has allowed a stuff rate of 23.1%. Considering the magnitude of those struggles in the trenches, it’s fairly surprising that the team’s rushing success rate is as high as 49.2%.

Defense appears to be the strength of this team through two games. USC has an overall defensive success rate of 40.2% and has generated Havoc on 20.5% of its opponents’ offensive plays. The Trojans fare better against the pass (36.1% passing success rate allowed) than against the run (43.7% success rate allowed). However, the USC defense has also stuffed 21.1% of opposing rush attempts, which helps to mitigate the disparity.

Utah Utes

Utah ranked as high as fifth in the country in 2019, but with serious changes to the roster this offseason Whittingham will have a challenge on his hands to make the most of a four-game season.

Long-time South Carolina starter Jake Bentley is expected to start at quarterback after the exit of Tyler Huntley. Bentley was a strong option as a freshman, but has shown signs of regression in each of the past three years. In particular, he’s demonstrated a tendency to turn the ball over, logging two seasons with more than 10 interceptions. And, unlike Huntley, Bentley does not possess a strong rushing skillset: He has less than 150 career rushing yards.

In addition to Huntley, the Utes will also have to replace running back Zach Moss, who rushed for 1,416 yards and accounted for 17 total touchdowns last season. Devin Brumfield and Jordan Wilmore are expected to split Moss’ vacated workload, but they combined for just 108 carries in 2019 and only managed 4.2 yards per carry.

The strength of the offense is expected to be the offensive line that returns four starters. However, that group is only average. Utah’s linemen allowed a stuff rate of  20.3% and 6.14 tackles for loss per game last season. This unit will need to show improvement as the new starters develop.

Only two starters remain from the 2019 defense that may have been the best in program history. They allowed the ninth-lowest success rate and the ninth-fewest points per opportunity. But after that campaign, they’ll return just one starter from the defensive line and one linebacker. But, Whittingham has proven himself capable of coaching up a defense: His teams have allowed less than 24 points per game in each of the last five seasons.

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Betting Analysis & Pick

The Utes were the slowest team in the FBS in 2019, averaging more than 31.5 seconds per play. And while the Trojans rank as the 16th-fastest offense over their first two games, their general inefficiency is keeping their scores lower and games closer than the lines have projected.

If USC’s struggles continue, the totals on their games will plummet. So, there’s a limited window to bet the under.

I’m playing under 58 and would play it as low as 54.5.

Pick: Under 58 (down to 54.5)

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