Free NCAA Football Betting Pick for Thursday: Cal at USC
by CarbonSports - 11/10/2014
CarbonSports.ag Game Line: California (+14) vs. USC (-14)
Oregon may have clinched the Pac-12 North this past weekend with their big win over Utah, but the Pac-12 South is still up for grabs and the USC Trojans likely need to win out and get some help if they want to claim that division. USC and California (who is in the North), both had this past week off as they prepared for this Thursday night tilt and if you like offense this will be the game for you.
California averages 41.9 points per game this year as they've got an explosive offense that can erupt at any time. It's thanks to that offense that the Golden Bears come into this game with a winning record (5-4 SU) and this program would love to play in their first Bowl game since 2011. The Bears would likely need to win two of their final three games to do so and as 14-point dogs against USC, they'll be calling on that offense to carry the load again.
That's because Cal allows 39.9 points per game on the year and they've allowed every conference rival to score at least 31 points against them. Given the fact that the Trojans average 34.9 points per game this year and have scored at least 34 points in every home game this season (tallies of 52, 35, 34, 56), I like the Trojans chances of having another big offensive night.
USC has also owned this rivalry for the last decade-plus, going 10-0 SU and 8-2 ATS, including a perfect 5-0 ATS the past five seasons. Last year it was a complete beatdown of the Bears (62-28) as USC broke away thanks to three special teams TD's (two punt returns and a blocked punt TD). In terms of yardage these two teams were basically even, but it was the 21 points on special teams that allowed USC to dominate the game from midway through the 2nd quarter and beyond.
Cal's defense hasn't improved that much, but I don't think we will see such major gaffs on special teams this year and that will help the Bears. With an offense that can score in a heartbeat, Cal is never out of a game (especially ATS), and the program has to be sick and tired of losing to the Trojans on a yearly basis.
California is a perfect 4-0 ATS in their last four on the road and have a 4-1 ATS run going the last five years after facing Oregon State. Cal is also 7-0 ATS as double-digit underdogs on the road when coming off a SU and ATS victory, while the road team is 13-5 ATS the last 18 times these two have played.
USC is 3-7 ATS off a win of 20+ points and 6-15 ATS after their last 21 victories as 14 points might be a few too many for them to cover in this spot. The Trojans are still in the thick of things in the Pac-12 South and have a road date with another team in that picture on deck (UCLA). There is potential for a look-ahead spot here for USC, and with Cal's ability to match them yard for yard and point for point on offense, USC will likely need another special teams score or two to come close to covering this number.
USC is 1-5 ATS at home the last six times they are playing a team that's coming off a SU win as a dog like the Bears are and that streak should continue this week.
Take California +14.
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