Texas Longhorns at USC Trojans Expert Picks with Odds and Betting Predictions
Texas Longhorns at USC Trojans, Saturday Sept. 16, 8:30 p.m. ET
We are only two weeks into the college football season, and already it has been an exhausting roller coaster watching both of these teams play. Texas embarrassed themselves in the opener against Maryland, seemingly setting the program back years. And then they came out the next week and won 56-0. It was only against San Jose State, so it doesn't prove too much, but there was certainly more hope emanating from the program after the game than before it. USC opened against Western Michigan and tried their hardest to lose the game. It was pretty ugly and was closer than the 49-31 final score. But then they totally dominated what was thought to be a pretty good Stanford team.
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So, what do we know? Both teams aren't as good as people thought they were. Unless they are playing the right team, then they are at least as good as people think they are. Heading into the season, many people were looking at this game as one in which Tom Herman could make his first big statement at Texas. That seems less likely now than back then - unless USC plays like they did against Western Michigan. All in all, this game sets up as a very interesting game - but not necessarily because it is going to be good. It's quite possible it's not good at all, in fact.
Texas at USC Betting Storylines
The narrative going into the season was that Sam Darnold had basically clinched the Heisman before the season began. Also, he could walk on water. He hasn't been horrible by any means, and he was brilliant for stretches of the Stanford game, but he certainly hasn't been at Heisman caliber yet. He has had two interceptions in each of his two games and looks like what he is - a very talented quarterback who has still only played a season's worth of games. If Darnold can face the defense that Maryland faced in their opener against Texas then suddenly his numbers will be better. The Longhorns tackled very well against San Jose State - something that seemed impossible just a week earlier. And the Longhorns' secondary is pretty solid. Coming into this game, then, it's probably more reasonable to have an opinion of Darnold based on his performance in the first two games and not on the ridiculous hype that surrounded him heading into the season.
The big advantage that Darnold and the USC offense has going for it is that the offensive line has been really strong. Darnold has been protected well - his issues have been his mistakes more than a case of being rushed. And against Stanford the Trojans were able to pile up 307 yards on the ground in a truly-impressive performance. The Texas defensive front has not been a horrible, but nor have they created real issues for opposing offenses on any kind of consistent basis yet. This is a big advantage for the Trojans and one that could swing the whole game.
The public sentiment is something to consider here. Normally both of these teams are very public, but both have faced hard times recently. USC has progressed further in their return to glory, though, and after that performance against Stanford the national media has been falling all over them with praise. Texas, meanwhile, got far more attention for that opening debacle than for the excellent Week 2 showing. This is a rare situation where Texas isn't likely getting near the respect they should. Only a third of bets have been on Longhorns, and that isn't likely to change. This game could dramatically change the public narrative, but right now it is clear how the public feels.
Texas at USC Odds and Betting Trends
The game opened with USC favored by 17 points at home. That has since widely fallen to 15.5 . With two-thirds of bets being on USC, the shift in odds suggests that sharp money has been on the Longhorns in early betting action. The total opened at 67 and has been stable in early betting action.
The Longhorns are 1-4 ATS in their last five games overall and 3-8 ATS in their last 11 road games. They are, however, 5-2 ATS in their last seven against the Pac-12. The Trojans are 4-1 ATS in their last five home games and 7-2 ATS in their last nine overall, but they are just 2-5 ATS in their last seven nonconference games.
Texas at USC Predictions and Picks
To me it comes down to coaching - I trust Tom Herman more than I do anyone on the USC staff. Herman has some decent talent - not like USC, but decent - and he has some momentum to build on after last week. I am not convinced they can win, but they are going to put it all on the line, and they are going to get creative. They are capable of keeping things close, which makes them the right play against what is clearly an inflated line.
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Read more articles by Trevor Whenham
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