The University of Southern California Trojans travel up to Atherton, CA this weekend in a PAC-12 rivalry matchup against the Stanford University Cardinals. Splitting the last ten matchups evenly, the Trojans (again) find themselves in a ranked position, with a nearly double-digit point spread, against an unranked Stanford opponent. Will this matchup spell disaster for the Trojans this season like it has in past seasons? Let’s get into it.
USC Trojans Vs. Stanford Cardinals Betting Odds
The Trojans opened as -11.5 point favorites but have since dropped down to -8.5 due to bettors flocking to the Stanford spread. Opening up with an over/under point total of 65, the game total has increased to 67. On the money-line, USC is -300 while Stanford is +235. Interesting note: per Max Meyer’s report at Caesars’ Sportsbook, “the Trojans have racked up 77.0% of the tickets, yet it’s the Cardinal that have wound up with 79.6% of the handle…this is the only Week 2 spread where one side has received at least 60.0% of the tickets and the other side has received at least 60.0% of the handle.”
USC Trojans Vs. Stanford Cardinals Prediction
This game is the first, real test of the season for both teams. Crushing Rice by a score of 66-14, the Trojans easily covered their -32.5 spread as they scored their most points in a game since 2005. Stanford, on the other hand, downed Colgate 41-10 behind a strong showing by both sides of the ball, but failed to cover their -37.5 point spread. Playing weak competition last week, it is hard to judge how these teams will stack up against each other. That being said, the Lincoln Riley effect has transformed USC into a PAC-12 championship contender overnight and Stanford isn’t quite there yet. While Tanner McKee and EJ Smith will undoubtedly pose a big challenge for the Trojans’ lackluster defense, Heisman hopeful Caleb Williams has a supporting cast worthy of top ten consideration. Williams’ connection with Pitt transfer and Biletnikoff winner Jordan Addison is surreal and something to be feared by opposing defenses as it yields first downs on command. USC’s offense is truly too good to stop and it won’t be slowing down in northern California this upcoming weekend.
Bettors are obviously high on the Trojans and a -8.5 spread is indicative of that. That being said, you get what you pay for, as USC features perhaps the best wide receiver group in CFB with Addison, Mario Williams, and CJ Williams. Impressive young running back Raleek Brown will also be returning from an early exit last week. While all eyes are on Stanford back and football royalty EJ Smith over on the Cardinals’ side, McKee may be getting overlooked, especially as he faces off against USC’s cornerbacks (their weakest overall unit).Regardless of totals, it wouldn’t be surprising if McKee had a big day as he is an under-the-radar talent.
Prediction: USC -8.5; O67
-The Over is 4-1 in the team’s last 5 meetings
-Over the last ten games, USC and Stanford have split 5-5 evenly
-Stanford defeated no.15 ranked USC last season in the Colosseum
-RB Raleek Brown (Probable)
-DB Zion Branch (Questionable)
-Michael Jackson III (Questionable)
-Domani Jackson (Questionable)
-Joshua Jackson Jr. (Questionable)
EJ Smith versus Trojans Defensive Line
With 11 carries for 118 yards and two touchdowns last week, EJ Smith is already living up to his family name. While USC has faced off against ultra-talented Stanford backs before, Smith poses a big challenge to a defense that was getting torched in the first quarter of the Rice game last week. Despite the defense waking up eventually, the Trojans defense can’t afford to sleep on Smith’s ability and that starts with the defensive line. New defensive coordinator Alex Grinch brought a lot of pressure last week and will look to do so again in an effort to stifle Smith out of the gate. With multiple long runs for gains last week, Smith could do real damage to Trojan spread prospects if he gets hot early. Luckily, the Trojans have Tuli Tuipuloto, Korey Foreman, and Nick Figueroa leading the pressure. Even so, this is the matchup that will make or break USC or Stanfords’ prospects of winning or covering the spread.
Caleb Williams versus the Cardinals Defensive Backs
I’ll keep this one short and sweet. There is a reason Williams is third in Heisman odds at +700. Williams should have no trouble absolutely torching a relatively light Cardinals’ defensive back unit. With his aforementioned receivers, Williams should be able to find his targets open with relative ease as his receivers should be able to find good separation against Stanford’s corners. Williams’ ability as a dual-threat quarterback will also be on showcase as he ran the ball frequently against Rice. With the pocket set to break down on off-plays, look for Williams to use his legs to extend them for first downs or even more. All of this will ultimately bode well for USC points scored which makes the team total of o37.5 points scored an enticing figure to keep an eye on.