#5 USC takes on Arizona State this Saturday (9/23/23). Get USC Vs. Arizona State predictions and the latest odds below. Also find our best bet for the game which is Arizona State +35.
USC Vs. Arizona State Prediction & Best Bet
Arizona State is coming off an ugly 29-0 home defeat, and the team is in disarray. Standout freshman quarterback Jaden Rashada is out 4-6 weeks while backups Drew Pyne and Trenton Bourguet both got hurt against Fresno State.
However, I expect better things from the Sun Devils’ offense moving forward. Head coach Kenny Dillingham is taking over play calling duties this week after leading one of the most efficient offenses in the country last year at Oregon.
Pyne is expected to get the start this week, and while he’s not nearly the superstar that Caleb Williams is, he did throw for 318 yards on an 88.5% completion rate against this defense less than eight months ago while at Notre Dame.
It’s worth noting that Williams had his worst game of the season last year against Washington State’s defense that was coached by new ASU defensive coordinator Brian Ward. Williams completed just 51.7% of his passes for 188 yards.
That Washington State defense had multiple future NFL players, but Ward has at least shown that he’s one of the few coaches in the country with some answers for how to slow down the reigning Heisman-winning quarterback.
This could be a potential lookahead spot for USC as they travel to Colorado to face the Buffs in a huge Big Noon Saturday kickoff on FOX. With the gravity of Deion Sanders’ 3-0 program, it wouldn’t be shocking if Riley’s team has one eye towards that massive showdown.
USC will likely be able to build a big early lead in this game before coasting to a comfortable win, leaving plenty of opportunities for a backdoor cover. My preferred way to attack this game would be a live bet on Arizona State once USC builds a big lead, but from a pregame perspective, it’s Arizona State or pass.
USC Vs. Arizona State Prediction & Best Bet: Arizona State +35
USC Vs. Arizona State Betting Odds
USC currently sits as a 35-point road favorite in this game with a spread that has ballooned from -21 on the early lookahead lines. The total of 62 points suggests Vegas is expecting a final score of about 49 to 13.
USC Trojans Vs. Arizona State Sun Devils Key Matchups
While this matchup is quite lopsided on paper, it’s worth looking at some of the key matchups that will decide who covers this large spread. Let’s take a look at those matchups here.
Caleb Williams Vs. Arizona State’s Pass Defense
If Arizona State wants to have any hope of staying in this game, it starts with finding a way to slow down Caleb Williams. That’s much easier said than done as the reigning Heisman winner already has 12 passing touchdowns through three games this season. Williams had 348 passing yards and 3 touchdowns against the Sun Devils last year.
So far, Arizona State ranks top 70 in EPA and success rate against the pass, but context is important here. The Sun Devils started the season against an FCS team before facing Oklahoma State’s gross amalgamation of three passers. Fresno State’s Mikey Keene had a comfortable 281 yards and two touchdowns last week.
With Jordan Addison off to the NFL, Williams has found a connection with a depth of receiving talent. Six receivers already have 100+ yards this year with Tahj Washington’s 233 yards leading the team. Defensive coordinator Brian Ward has a strong secondary, but holding up against Williams is an entirely different proposition.
Cameron Skattebo Vs. USC’s Run Defense
It will be important for Arizona State to figure out its quarterback situation moving forward, but finding a consistent run game is crucial to making things easier for whoever is under center. Cameron Skattebo, a transfer from Sacramento State, had nearly 1,400 rushing yards last season and ranks fifth in the country with 21 missed tackles forced.
USC’s run defense was a major problem last year, and it doesn’t look much improved this season despite facing an easy schedule thus far. The Trojans rank 99th in rushing EPA per play allowed and allowed San Jose State (7.3 YPC) and Stanford (5.1 YPC) to have highly productive days on the ground.