Utah Utes at USC Trojans Expert Betting Picks with Odds and Predictions
Utah Utes at USC Trojans, Saturday Oct. 14, 8 p.m. ET
USC came into this season burdened with almost impossibly high expectations. After years of struggles pretty much since the Pete Carroll era ended, people were so hungry for the Trojans to be a big factor again that they crowned them before they proved worthy of the attention. People expected them to be a playoff team and had basically given Sam Darnold the Heisman.
And, as is almost always the case, they couldn't quite live up to expectations.
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They had a loss to Washington State two games back that diminished their record, but the issues had been obvious before then. They struggled more against Western Michigan in the opener than they should have. They needed overtime at home against Texas. They made Cal look much better than anyone should make Cal look. They have covered just one spread in six tries, so they have really struggled to meet the expectations casual bettors place on them. And while Darnold has not been terrible by any means, throwing 12 touchdowns and nine interceptions is not going to win anyone any awards. He looks just like what he is a very talented second-year starter who still has some issues to deal with. After that Washington State loss they bounced back with an Oregon State win that was decisive enough to make Beavers coach Gary Andersen quit. But beating Oregon State doesn't prove anything, so this game is their first real chance to prove that they are back on track. Can they handle it?
Utah at USC Betting Storylines
The Oregon State win isn't as easy to interpret as you might hope. Sure, they won, and they were never threatened at all. But they were favored by 33, and they didn't cover. Clay Helton obviously wasn't worried about that, though, because he pulled Sam Darnold in the fourth quarter. So, what does it all mean? Well, it's hard to see it as a statement win. And there is only one game that stands out on this schedule so far as a statement win - beating Stanford by 18 as 3.5-point favorites. There are no style points in football, of course, but it would be much easier to get behind this Trojans team and believe in them if they had stomped the teams they are supposed to stomp. It feels like they don't have that killer instinct, and that has been a factor in their close games. This is the kind of game that the Trojans just need to dominate to prove to others that they are a squad to be taken seriously. At this point I'm surely not the only one who is skeptical.
Utah is a pretty ordinary team. They are 4-1, and that is about right, but it comes because they have played a lousy schedule. The only team they played that was strong was Stanford, and they lost it by three - exactly the spread. While not good, though, the team is clearly better than casual bettors expect them to be - they are a strong 4-0-1 ATS on the season. Bryce Love, Stanford's running back, is eating teams whole this season. He did his damage against the Utes - he scored on a 68 yard run late. Up until then, though, the team had done a better job than most of controlling and containing Love, and that's why the game was as close as it was. That's what makes this game so compelling - Utah is so well-coached that they will be prepared for this one, and they are certainly capable of keeping the Trojans honest. Combine that with the softness that the Trojans have shown at times and, well, you can probably guess what my pick is going to be at the end of this article.
Utah at USC Odds and Betting Trends
The game opened with USC favored by 12.5, and that has since edged up to 13. Action is pretty evenly split between the two teams, so we aren't likely to see any serious movement without breaking news. The total opened at 54.5 and can now be found as low as 53.
The Utes have covered the spread in their last five road games, and they are 5-1-1 ATS in their last seven conference games. They are a strong 14-3 ATS in their last 17 road games against teams with winning home records. USC hasn't covered their last four spreads, but they are 5-2 ATS in their last seven games in October and 4-1 ATS in their last five home games against teams with winning road records.
Utah at USC Predictions and Picks
I like the Utes here at this price - more to cover than to win outright. USC is the far more talented team, but they are badly outcoached here, and I don't trust their mental game at all. Utah is tough, and they are going to be able to do enough here to keep it close enough to cover.
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Read more articles by Trevor Whenham
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