No. 5 Washington heads down to Los Angeles to face No. 24 USC for a marquee Pac-12 matchup this Saturday (11/4/23) at 7:30 p.m. EST. Get Washington vs. USC odds, picks and predictions below as our best bet is over 76.5 points.
Washington vs. USC Prediction
After an explosive start to the year, things are very quickly unraveling for the USC football team. It all started around halftime against Colorado– USC let the Buffaloes back into a game that was previously a blowout, but ended 48-41. The Trojans undefeated status barely survived a three-overtime test against Arizona the next week, and then, the dam finally broke. USC then lost consecutive games, at Notre Dame and to Utah, before narrowly escaping a 50-49 shootout on the road at Cal.
This team isn’t a contender for the national championship, but they do still have some fringe Pac-12 aspirations. The Notre Dame loss was out of conference. But with a loss this weekend, the fine string of hope they are hanging onto will officially snap. This season will definitively be a lost one as the Trojans will exit the Caleb Williams era with no playoff appearances or conference titles.
Washington doesn’t need this win quite as much in terms of the standings. The Huskies are in great position to make the conference championship game and potentially a semifinal as the last undefeated squad in the Pac-12. But their form has slipped of late as well, eerily mirroring what happened to USC.
The Huskies played a weirdly close game with Arizona before picking up a more understandably tight win over Oregon. After that, things got concerning. The Huskies needed a late comeback involving a defensive touchdown to get past one-win Arizona State. They were relatively lucky to escape now-2-6 Stanford with a win. An undefeated conference champ is likely going into the playoff. In order to make it with a loss, the committee is going to need to see Kalen DeBoer’s squad winning in more convincing fashion.
This one should be a shootout. The offenses are both top 10 in the country by EPA per play, headlined by Washington at fourth. Neither defense is top-60, and USC’s is barely one of the hundred best units. These are also two of the most pass-heavy teams in the sport. USC is 113th in run play percentage, While Washington’s figure of 37.92% places them 126th, which is great for pace of play and thus lots of points.
Both offenses have had uncharacteristic hiccups in the past few weeks. But both are coming off of shootouts that approached or cleared this number, despite low-scoring opponents. It’s definitely a big number to clear, but if any offenses are equipped to break it, these two would be the ones. Neither defense is in any position to prevent that from happening.
Washington vs. USC Prediction: Over 76.5
Washington vs. USC Best Odds
Washington is a road favorite of 3.5 points, or -175 on the moneyline. USC’s side of the moneyline is +145, while both sides of the 76.5 point total are -110.
Washington vs. USC Key Matchups
With two of the most prolific offenses in the country squaring off, just a stop or two by the defense could make all the difference. So let’s hone in on which positional matchups could determine which side will bend and break.
Washington Air Attack vs. USC Pass Defense
Washington’s pass offense has famously been one of the best in the country this season, and the analytics back that up. The Huskies’ passing game ranks fourth in the country in EPA per play. Quarterback Michael Penix Jr. leads the nation in passing yards, almost 300 yards ahead of USC’s Caleb Williams in second place. The Huskies boast a stable of NFL receivers, even if Jalen McMillan is hurt. Rome Odunze and Ja’Lynn Polk have each racked up seven scores, more than 45 catches and more than 800 yards, headlined by Odunze with 907.
USC’s pass defense is not up to the task of slowing down the Huskies. They’re 103rd in the country in EPA per play and were most recently ripped apart by Cal freshman Fernando Mendoza. Mendoza had the most productive game of his young career against the Trojans. The secondary is simply not going to hang with Washington’s superstar wideout room. So it’ll be up to Solomon Byrd, Bear Alexander and the rest of the pass rush to force some bad throws from Penix.
USC Rushing Offense vs. Washington Run Defense
Yes, USC will be primarily passing the ball, which they’ll need to do effectively in order to keep pace with Washington. But their run unit actually grades better – sixth by EPA per play – than the air game does. Early-down rushing success will be vital to keep the Trojans ahead of the chains and in control at home. MarShawn Lloyd has been excellent. He’s run for 766 yards at a pace of 7.7 per carry, and scored seven times on the ground. Austin Jones has been solid too, averaging over 5 yards per carry behind PFF’s 40th-favorite run blocking offensive line.
The Washington run defense is pretty dismal, 105th in the country in EPA per play. You might think that they would be happy if USC simply keeps the ball on the ground all day, but slowing down the run game is going to be vital if Washington wants to be able to focus on preventing big plays through the air. D-lineman Tuli Letuligasenoa should be back from injury, so he should be a big boost, and Bralen Trice has been solid off the edge, but more contributors will need to step up.