Nevada vs USC Odds, Prediction: The 1Q Bet to Make
Photo by Katelyn Mulcahy/Getty Images. Pictured: Caleb Williams (USC)
Nevada vs USC Odds
The march to an undefeated season and first-ever birth in the College Football Playoff continues for USC after a Week 0 victory.
USC will take on a second Mountain West opponent after scoring a 28-point, non-cover win over San Jose State. The Trojans progressed toward season-long goals while showing off new offensive playmakers to the college football world.
Now, the Trojans will look to take on a 2022 two-win team in preparation for a Pac-12 Conference opener against Stanford next week.
Nevada head coach Ken Wilson had a true Year 0 in 2022, losing the majority of his players in the transfer portal once former head coach Jay Norvell landed at Colorado State. Despite losing 10 straight games, Nevada covered two November spreads against San Jose State and UNLV.
The roster continued a deep churn over the offseason, as the offense pulled one of the lowest numbers in returning experience, per TARP.
USC shouldn't break a sweat in getting a lead during its first home game, but the question remains if the investors are paying a premium in the market on a loaded offensive roster.
There were zero expectations for Nevada in 2022, as Wilson looked to overhaul a roster that spent numerous years throwing the football.
The offense became balanced last season, rushing on 52% of snaps despite a rank of 130th in standard downs success. The Wolf Pack struggled to have an identity, ranking bottom-15 in Havoc Allowed and Finishing Drives.
The top three rushers from a season ago have all moved on, leaving offensive coordinator Derek Sage with Sean Dollars and Ashton Hayes on the depth chart.
Dollars is a transfer from Oregon who compiled just a single touchdown and 316 yards in three seasons with the Ducks.
Both offensive tackles have size and minimal experience, as Frank Poso and Isaiah World each come in at a minimum of 6-foot-5 and 300 pounds.
The trench is tasked with protecting Colorado transfer Brendon Lewis at quarterback.
Brendon Lewis 👀
Now THAT'S a throwpic.twitter.com/D5hH2olBzm
— Cam Mellor (@CamMellor) October 16, 2021
Lewis completed just 15 passes a season ago, getting the majority of his experience during a 1,500-yard, 10-touchdown passing season in 2021.
Dalevon Campbell and USC transfer John Jackson III round out the receiving options, but neither has displayed enough in the yards-per-route-run category to be considered an explosive threat.
Much like last season, the defense must continue to improve for the Wolf Pack to cover against the spread.
Linebackers Drue Watts and Tongiaki Mateialona are the leading tacklers on this roster, contributing 7.5 tackles for loss and five sacks a season ago.
The area of focus for the USC game is cornerback KK Meier, a sophomore who logged a single snap on special teams last year. In addition to Meier, the secondary will also see fresh faces at free safety and transfers at the nickel position.
The secondary will be put to the test immediately against the reigning Heisman Trophy winner.
Caleb Williams completed 18-of-25 passes with four touchdowns in a victory over San Jose State.
The Trojans failed to cover the spread by a field goal, electing to have backup quarterbacks Miller Moss and Malachi Nelson attempt 10 combined passes.
The Spartans completed a 10-play drive to tie up the game early in the second quarter before USC rattled off a bevy of touchdowns. Freshman Zachariah Branch stole the show, catching all four targets for a touchdown and recording an additional touchdown on a 96-yard kickoff return.
ZACHARIAH BRANCH WHAT A DEBUT🔥
— PFF College (@PFF_College) August 27, 2023
Branch logged a yards-per-route-run number of 3.63 after a single game, a number that would put the receiver in Heisman contention with continuation across 11 more games.
There was never a question that the Trojans' offense would cook, as eight of their 11 drives had at least two first downs while they achieved 62% of available yards. The issue that plagued USC a year ago — a lack of ability to get opposing offenses off the field — continued against the Spartans, though.
Quarterback Chevan Cordeiro threw for 198 yards and three touchdowns while adding 52 yards on the ground. Nick Nash caught all three touchdowns and reeled in six of eight targets against multiple members of the USC secondary. San Jose State had more explosive drives than USC — nearly double the national average of 12.9%.
Not only did the Spartans have success through the air, but the ground game also produced four runs greater than 20 yards.
By no means is San Jose State a lower-tier offensive system in the Mountain West, but certain individual performances on the USC defense are notable. Oklahoma State transfer linebacker Mason Cobb allowed 30 yards after the catch when targeted five times. Georgia transfer Bear Alexander produced just two pressures in 32 pass rush attempts.
For the Trojans to win the Pac-12, coordinator Alex Grinch must find massive improvements in pressuring the quarterback and limiting explosive plays.
Nevada vs USC
Betting Pick & Prediction
Fortunately for USC, the Nevada offense doesn't contain a similar composition as San Jose State. Not only did the Wolf Pack nearly finish last in Success Rate on offense last season, but the defense fell to 128th in allowing explosives on passing downs.
With a brand new set of players in the secondary for Nevada — particularly at the corner position — there are expectations that the Trojans shouldn't have a single speed bump in getting points on the board.
While Williams will get his yards and touchdowns in the first half to stay atop of the Heisman race, the full-game handicap may come down to the second-half activities of the Trojans' defense and backup quarterbacks.
Since 2021, Riley has covered just five of his 15 games when favored by two touchdowns or more. Action Network projects USC as a 35.5-point favorite, giving minimal value to the Nevada side. Oddsmakers will be hard-pressed to find tickets on the Wolf Pack, as market entry should begin at 38.5 or better.
With Stanford on deck for the Trojans, a live betting number may provide better value, as USC will likely put the second-stringers on the field by the second half.
The best bet is for USC to start off fast in the Coliseum after a sluggish start against San Jose State. Running back Austin Jones should once again average nearly 10 yards per carry, while Tahj Washington, Dorian Singer and Branch all have the ability to house a reception against an inexperienced Nevada secondary.
If the USC defense is stuck in second gear once again, Lewis is capable of moving the Wolf Pack offense down the field for a scoring opportunity.
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