Week 3 Odds, Prediction, Pick for Washington State vs. USC: How to Bet Saturday’s Pac-12 College Football Game

Week 3 Odds, Prediction, Pick for Washington State vs. USC: How to Bet Saturday’s Pac-12 College Football Game article feature image
Credit:

Jayne Kamin-Oncea/Getty Images. Pictured: USC QB Kedon Slovis

Washington State vs. USC Odds

Saturday, Sept. 18
3:30 p.m. ET
FOX
Washington State Odds
Spread Total Moneyline
+7.5
-105
62
-110o / -110u
+260
USC Odds
Spread Total Moneyline
-7.5
-115
62
-110o / -110u
-335
Odds via DraftKings. Get up-to-the-minute college football odds here.

USC travels to the Palouse on Saturday afternoon to take on Washington State. The Trojans are coming off a wild week as they lost at home to Stanford as 17-point favorites and subsequently fired Clay Helton on Monday.

The Cougars bounced back from their Week 1 loss to Utah State with a 44-24 win over Portland State in Week 2.

Here’s everything bettors need to know as these teams fight for their first Pac-12 win of the season.


Washington State Cougars

Washington State started the season with Tennessee transfer Jarrett Guarantano as their starting quarterback, but after he left in the opener with an injury, last year’s starter, de Laura, has stepped in and taken over as QB1.

De Laura looks to bounce back after playing the worst game of his collegiate career against USC last year.


Cougars Offense

De Laura has recorded a QBR above 50 in all but one of his six collegiate starts.

However, that one game below 50, he finished with an 8.4 QBR vs. USC, as he threw two first-quarter interceptions and no touchdowns in the blowout loss. The Trojans jumped out to a 28-0 first-quarter lead that essentially ended the game with 45 minutes to play.

If they hope to pull the upset, Washington State needs to run the football and avoid the negative plays that burned them in this matchup last season. The Trojans didn’t need to respect the Cougars’ running game last year as they allowed just 2.7 yards per carry and instead, they pinned their ears back and aggressively got after de Laura.

Taking pressure off de Laura will be key for the Cougars, and they must get their underrated running back duo of Max Borghi and Deon McIntosh involved in the passing game as well.


Cougars Defense

Both of Washington State’s starting corners, Jaylen Watson and Derrick Langford, were injured in the win over Portland State.

Washington State also played without its top two nickel corners (Armani Marsh and Armauni Archie), and they were not listed on this week’s depth chart.

If the Cougars pull the upset or cover, they need their secondary to step up and win their one-on-one matchups against the Trojans’ receivers.

The USC offense scored touchdowns on each of its first five possessions in last year’s game to take a 35-0 lead, as it routinely got the matchups it was looking for and Slovis delivered the ball on the money.

The Cougars can’t let the Trojans’ number one receiver (London) get advantageous matchups consistently this year like St. Brown did last season when he caught four touchdown passes on the first four USC drives.


USC Trojans

The Trojans replaced Helton with interim coach Donte Williams. Williams is known as one of the nation’s top recruiters and was previously the team’s associate head coach. He’s tasked with getting this talented Trojans team to play up to their potential.


Trojans Offense

If USC hopes to win and cover, the offense needs to get off to a faster start and convert more on third downs and in the red zone.

USC’s red zone conversions in garbage time have inflated their finishing drives statistic each of the past two weeks.

Fun Fact:

USC's four TD's in nine Red Zone trips (44%) has the Trojans tied with Utah State and Florida International for 108th in the country.

— R.J. Abeytia (@RJ_Abeytia) September 13, 2021

While USC beat San Jose State 30-7 in Week 1, the Trojans only scored 13 points through three quarters as they held just a six-point lead with 15 minutes left.

Last week against Stanford, the Trojans started with consecutive three-and-outs and scored just 13 points through three quarters again. The Cardinal took a commanding 42-13 lead before the Trojans scored consecutive touchdowns against the backups to make the final score closer than the game appeared.

Junior quarterback Kedon Slovis needs to improve his decision-making while receivers step up.

Physical receiver Drake London might be the best in the conference, but the Trojans have struggled to make up for the losses of Amon-Ra St. Brown and Tyler Vaughns to the NFL, and Bru McCoy to suspension.

Sophomore transfer Tahj Washington’s 103 yards rank second on the team behind London’s 205 yards, but no other receiver has more than 35 receiving yards on the year.

The Trojans need other players to step up and win their one-on-one matchups because defenses will continue to double London and try to limit his explosive plays.


Trojans Defense

Shockingly, the USC defense doesn’t have a single sack or quarterback hurry through two games.

The defensive line was supposed to be a strength of this team, but so far it hasn’t been. The Trojans need the defensive line, led by edge defender Drake Jackson, to step up and cause havoc against Cougars quarterback Jayden de Laura.

Self-inflicted wounds have also been an issue as USC totaled 109 yards of penalties against Stanford. The good news for USC fans is that most of these came via pass interference penalties vs. bigger-bodied receivers that Washington State simply doesn’t have.

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Washington State vs. USC Matchup Analysis

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

USC Offense vs. Washington State Defense

Offense

Defense

Edge

Rush Success
1
71
Line Yards
11
93
Pass Success
25
102
Pass Blocking*
31
65
Big Play
95
63
Havoc
19
87
Finishing Drives
11
88
*Pass Blocking (Off.) vs. Pass Rush (Def.)

Washington State Offense vs. USC Defense

Offense

Defense

Edge

Rush Success
15
26
Line Yards
75
3
Pass Success
49
125
Pass Blocking*
53
31
Big Play
7
115
Havoc
83
104
Finishing Drives
49
104
* Pass Blocking (Off.) vs. Pass Rush (Def.)

Pace of Play / Other
PFF Tackling
53
90
PFF Coverage
93
79
Middle 8
99
53
SP+ Special Teams
60
33
Plays per Minute
66
83
Rush Rate
46.2% (108)
46.8% (107)

Data via College Football Data (CFBD), FootballOutsiders, SP+, PFF & SportSource Analytics.


Washington State vs. USC Betting Pick

While I lean toward the Trojans winning and covering, USC’s underachievement on both sides of the ball along with its coaching change make this a pass from me on the spread. However, I like the value better on Under 62.5 for a few reasons.

First, the USC offense isn’t as dynamic as it has been recently. I mentioned above how USC doesn’t have the same juice at receiver as in years past.

Furthermore, the lack of a commitment to the run game has put USC in too many obvious passing situations on third downs and in the red zone.

Second, for two teams that pass the ball relatively more than others, there will be about 14 MPH winds and a good chance of rain in the forecast for Saturday afternoon. Neither quarterback has the strongest arm in the world, so conditions could play a factor.

Third, the Washington State offense simply doesn’t have the big-bodied receivers that gave the Trojans trouble last week. Also, I don’t see de Laura and the Cougars’ offense making enough big plays to score consistently.

With the exception of one big Stanford run, the USC run defense has played well overall, so it should limit the Washington State running game enough to put too much on de Laura’s plate for the over to hit. I love the value on Under 62.5 at DraftKings and I would bet this down to 59 at -125 or better.

Pick: Under 62.5

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