USC Vs.Colorado: Prediction, Best Bets, Odds (9/30/23)

Colorado will host Heisman Trophy winner Caleb Williams and #8 USC in Boulder this Saturday (9/30/23). Get USC vs. Colorado odds, predictions, and picks below as our best bet is over 73.5 points.

USC Vs.Colorado Prediction & Best Bet

The Coach Prime hype train was derailed by a dose of reality as Colorado got knocked around by Oregon in a 42-6 loss that was somehow even less close than that final scoreline indicates. After winning their first three games to climb all the way up to #19 in the AP poll, Colorado finally faced a real contender, and were very far from up to the task.

Oregon scored touchdowns on six of their first seven drives, before taking the foot off of the gas pedal. On the other side of the ball, after averaging over 400 yards per game over the first three contests, Shedeur Sanders threw for just 159 against the Ducks as he routinely held onto the ball far too long, getting himself into bad situations. Overall, the Buffaloes need a get-right game, and while hosting a top-10 opponent isn’t the best opportunity for that, there are some reasons to believe they could start piecing together some positives against USC.

The Buffs’ defense will need to wait another week to show any sort of improvement, as USC’s offense led by reigning Heisman Trophy winner Caleb Williams ranks first in the country by just about every rate-based measure, but the Sean Lewis “flash fast” offense has good chance to bounce back against a porous Trojans defense. USC allowed 28 points in a surprisingly close game against an Arizona State team that got shut out by Fresno State the week before, and allowed the same tally to San Jose State earlier this year.

The Trojans do have a high-end pass rush, the third-best in the country per PFF, which should be a good learning experience for Sanders; he will have to get the ball out quickly, but should be rewarded for doing so. The USC secondary is likely the team’s weakest position group, and isn’t particularly well-equipped to slow down a very solid group of Colorado pass catchers headlined by Xavier Weaver and Jimmy Horn, even with Travis Hunter likely out.

This game should look like the Pac-12 we’re used to with high-flying offenses and no defense to speak of, rather than the surprisingly hard-hitting and defensive version we’ve seen in some of the matchups this year. It’s hard to say whether USC will get enough stops to cover the three-score spread, or if it’s just an overreaction after Colorado’s last game, but the Buffaloes should absolutely contribute to the total this time, so let’s play the over, even with an elevated number of 73.5.

USC Vs.Colorado Prediction & Best Bet: Over 73.5 (-110)

USC Vs.Colorado Betting Odds

After getting blown out by Oregon, Colorado is a 21.5 point home underdog, with -110 odds on either side of that spread. The total is set at a sky-high 73.5, with -110 odds for both the over and under as well.

USC Vs.Colorado Key Matchups

Colorado’s offensive line gave Shedeur some decent opportunities against Oregon, and will need to keep it up for the team to have any chance against USC, while the Trojans’ pass catchers could have a big day against the Buffs’ secondary.

Colorado Offensive Line vs. USC Pass Rush

Sanders got his time to throw down to 2.64 seconds on average against Oregon, but it wasn’t enough as he had his worst game as a Buffalo. This week, either he’s going to have to radically improve his processing speed, or the o-line will need to give him more time. Tackle duo Gerad Christian-Lichtenhan and Savion Washington had solid games, but the interior line needs to contribute more; this has been a trend so far, and more consistent performance across the line will be key against the Trojans.

USC’s pass rush has gotten off to a very solid start to the year with 16 sacks across their first four games, led by 4.5 already from former Wyoming transfer Solomon Byrd, who picked up two big ones in the win over Arizona State. He’s racking up a pass rush win rate of 24.1%, while fellow edge rushers Romello Height and Anthony Lucas have also done well with slightly smaller sample size, with figures of 23.1% and 30%, respectively. Highly-touted transfer Bear Alexander anchors the interior line, and could make things tough for those Colorado interior offensive linemen.

USC Pass Catchers vs. Colorado Secondary

While Caleb Williams has been rightfully credited for this offense’s success, as undoubtedly the best passer in the college game, he’s had the benefit of a really strong group of wideouts. Dorian Singer, a high talent and prized prospect, is only fifth on the team in receiving yards thus far, and the team has six players who have caught over 100 yards worth of balls from Williams. Tahj Washington tops the list with 278, while Brenden Rice leads the team with 5 touchdowns and Zacariah Branch is tops with 13 catches. However you look at the numbers, this is a deep group, and Williams does a great job spreading the ball around. Slowing this offense means taking care of a wide array of threats, so Colorado’s DBs will certainly have their work cut out for them.

For that Buffs defensive backfield, there’s fewer highlights, especially with two-way superstar Travis Hunter sidelined after a dirty hit. Trevor Woods has been solid at safety, as has Shilo Sanders to a lesser extent, but the cornerbacks have contributed absolutely nothing, as the Buffs rank 126th in the country on success rate against the pass and 92nd in per-dropback EPA allowed. Guys like Omarion Cooper and Cam’Ron Silmon-Craig will need to perform much better to give their team any sort of chance against USC.

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From starting my own blog in Middle School, to working on a friend’s in college, and finally joining the Lineups team this year, I’ve been writing about sports for over a decade and betting on them as long as I’ve been legally able. I graduated from the University of Michigan last year, where I took sports journalism classes alongside my business major. Having played and watched sports for almost my whole life, I aim to provide insight and entertainment, as well as profitable picks, in my writing about professional and collegiate leagues.

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