USC at Utah Odds, Picks, and Predictions (10/15/22)
The #7 Southern Cal. Trojans (6-0, 4-0) play visitor to the #20 Utah Utes (4-2, 2-1) on Saturday night in a showdown that could ultimately decide who plays in the PAC12 championship later this year. With the Trojans coming off a dominant 30-14 victory over the Washington State Cougars, they will hope to keep their perfect season alive against a Utah team, reeling from last week’s 42-32 loss to UCLA. Let’s take a look at the odds, prediction, and key matchups to for this one.
USC Trojans vs Utah Utes Odds
The Trojans are +3.5 road underdogs to the -3.5 Utah Utes. The moneyline is set at -165 for Utah and +145 for USC. The over/under is set at 65.
USC Trojans vs Utah Utes Preview & Prediction
The #11 Utah Utes were -3.5 point road favorites over the #18 UCLA Bruins last week and their failure to secure a victory has shot them down to their current ranking. While the Utes looked like their normal selves, UCLA’s QB-RB duo went on an absolute tear and ran through Utah’s relatively stout defense.
Last week against the Wazzu Cougars, USC also went with its QB-RB duo of Caleb Williams (188 yards, 2 TD) and Travis Dye (149 yards, 1 TD) in its rout over a relatively underrated WSU team. Now, facing the best opponent yet, the Trojans are going to half to double-down offensively and gear up to stop the run on defense, as WSU put up 144 rushing yards despite being the worst running team in the PAC12.
Unfortunately for the Trojans, Utah’s game offensively is running the football. Relying on its plethora of talented backs, the Utes run early and often and offensive coordinator Andy Ludwig will definitely look to showcase his talent in primetime on Saturday. One of Ludwig’s best running talents: quarterback Cameron Rising, who only trails starting back Tavion Thomas in rushing yards with 248. We’ve seen the Trojans defense struggle mightily against good rushing attacks and Rising is the best dual-threat they will have faced so far.
The Trojans offense has taken a step back over the last two games. While the team is still ultimately humming after putting up 30 points last week, Caleb Williams bears the brunt of an offensive line that has played inconsistent. Facing off against a good defense with DE Van Fillinger (3.5 sacks) leading the front and Safeties RJ Hubert and Cole Bishop leading the secondary, Williams is going to have to play his best game yet in order to survive the trip up to Rice Eccles field. Playing his worst game against a similarly talented Oregon St. secondary, Williams is going to have to rely on RB Travis Dye and play escape-artist in an effort to find his talented receivers, who will inevitably be open given their arguably the best receiving core in the country. With the Williams-Dye combo working great last week, the USC offense should get back to its earlier season form this week.
This game is going to turn into a matter of who can outscore who. With both teams averaging more than 40 points per game, I am going to have to lean over, even though the posted number of 65 is six points higher than the opening total of 59. With “62.6% of the tickets and 71.4% of the handle” on USC per Max Meyer’s report over at Caesars’ Sports, it’s hard not to roll with +3.5 here for a higher-ranked Trojans team. That being said, USC hasn’t been tested to the limits of this Utah team, so instead of going all in on one of these two, I will ride the over and sprinkle on the +3.5 for USC.
Prediction: USC covers +3.5, over hits
USC Trojans vs Utah Utes Key Matchups
Tavion Thomas versus the Trojans Defensive Line
With 18 carries last week, expect Tavion Thomas to be seen more frequently as Utah looks to exploit USC’s weak run defense. While there are certainly names on the Trojans defensive front, DE Korey Foreman needs to get more involved in attempting to shut down the one thing that opposing offenses can do week in and week out and that’s running the football.
Caleb Williams versus Cameron Rising
A good betting play here, WIlliams is only -125 to -130 to beat Rising head-to-head in total passing yards. Given USC’s streak of failing to stop the run, I believe Utah leans on its running attack, giving Williams the advantage in passing here. While Travis Dye has been featured in the Trojans offense more and more, Williams is always a safe choice to sling the ball multiple times a drive. With Jordan Addisson on the receiving end, Williams is a safe bet here.