Utah vs. USC Odds & Picks: Can Utes & Trojans Both Shine on Offense?

Utah vs. USC Odds & Picks: Can Utes & Trojans Both Shine on Offense? article feature image

Jeffrey Swinger-USA TODAY Sports. Pictured: Tyler Huntley

Utah vs. USC Betting Odds & Picks

  • Odds: Utah -3.5
  • Over/Under: 53.5
  • Time: 9 p.m. ET, Friday
  • TV: Fox Sports 1
  • Location: Los Angeles

All odds above as of Friday at 6 p.m. ET and via PointsBet, where Action Network users get an exclusive 200% deposit match (deposit $50, bet with $150).

When did Utah last win in Los Angeles against USC? You have to go all the way back to 1916 at good ole’ Fiesta Park.

The Utes are a short favorite over the Trojans in the latest betting odds for Friday night’s game, a spot that has not been kind to USC coach Clay Helton. He’s just 2-11 against the spread as an underdog at USC.

The Pac-12 South was quite an adventure in 2018, as everyone but Utah finished with at least four conference losses (and the Utes had three).

This year, this Utah vs. USC matchup could serve as a knockout game when all is said and done.

Here’s how we’re betting it.

Wilson: The Betting Angle I’m Playing

USC comes off a close loss against a tough BYU squad that put up fantastic advanced numbers in the box score.

The Cougars were best in the nation in preventing explosiveness in 2018 and many of those traits showed up in Week 3. USC had three turnovers, as freshman quarterback Kedon Slovis tried to do a bit too much in the road overtime loss.

BYU’s Zach Wilson and Fresno State’s Jorge Reyna made plays out of the pocket against USC, and that will be key for Utah’s quarterback Tyler Huntley.

USC has been vulnerable downfield against the pass, allowing 11 passes of 20 yards or more and six passes of 30-plus yards.

As for USC, Slovis is expected to go to the air fast and early. Utah’s excellent defensive line is 18th in stuff rate, a stat that looks at tackles behind the line of scrimmage. The Trojans may struggle to establish the run on early downs, forcing offensive coordinator Graham Harrell to the Air Raid on standard downs.

Speaking of Utah’s defense against the Air Raid, Washington State rang up the Utes defense last season for 445 passing yards. That template will be used against Utah, with Slovis making or breaking the Trojans’ chances at covering.

I think he can make enough plays through the air to pull it off. — Collin Wilson

Pick: USC +4

Stuckey: Why I’m Betting the Over

I agree with Collin here in that USC has some value at home, in large part due to their new Air Raid system.

I think I like the over even more.

Simply put, Utah has struggled to defend the Air Raid, primarily against Washington State (the Cougs have won four straight over Utah) and Cal when Sonny Dykes was the coach. Over the past five years, Utah went 0-5 ATS against the five air raid opponents it faced.

Why does such an elite defense struggle with this specific scheme?

Unlike Washington, which has excelled at slowing down Mike Leach’s Air Raid by only rushing three and dropping back eight (two deep and six underneath) in a zone, Utah runs a press, man-heavy defense. BYU followed a similar blueprint to Washington last week against USC.

And while Utah has excellent defensive backs, including one of the best duos in college football with future NFL players Jaylon Johnson and safety Julian Blackmon, it’s not an ideal scheme to use against the Air Raid. Corners can easily get lost underneath in picks and motion.

And USC certainly has one of the most dynamic groups of receivers in college football to have success through the air against any secondary. I’d also expect Slovis to play much better at home in his freshman year. USC will go fast, stick to the air as Collin said and I think have success moving the ball.

However, I also think Utah will be able to move the ball on offense. This USC defense looks vulnerable off the edge, which running back Zack Moss and mobile QB Tyler Huntley can exploit.

Collin also mentioned USC has struggled with mobile quarterbacks already this year and that should come into play once again on Friday night.

I expect both offenses to shine in what should be an extremely close game.

Pick: Over 52.5 or lower

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