|-2.5 USC (-112) @ Draftkings|
Take USC (#367)
USC has struggled to cover pointspreads in this ‘road chalk’ role. They lost SU in overtime at BYU last year and won by only four points as-12 chalk at Colorado. Last week, the Trojans never even sniffed a pointspread cover as double digit favorites at Arizona; similar to their opening game, where the Trojans needed an onside kick recovery to steal a miracle win vs Arizona State.
But USC won their first two games this year, just like they won at Colorado last year, and the betting markets aren’t asking the Trojans to win this game by margin – a win by a field goal cashes our bet. USC’s skill position talent was too much for Utah to handle in last year’s meeting, a game the Trojans won by a TD as underdogs. And Utah had a great defense a year ago – they didn’t win 11 games by accident in 2019.
2020 is a very different story for Kyle Whittingham’s squad. The Utes lost nine defensive starters to graduation, including three NFL draft choices from their defensive line and a pair of draft picks from their secondary. They lost workhorse RB Zack Moss to the NFL and starting QB Jake Huntley as well. Utah hasn’t played a game yet; their first two contests both cancelled due to COVID protocols. I have the utmost respect for Whittingham – as do the betting markets; which is why this line is so short – but Utah has neither the talent, nor the experience to hang tough with the Trojans.
Make no mistake about it – while USC has consistently been sloppy in the Clay Helton era, they’ve got size, speed and NFL caliber talent on both sides of the football. The Trojans have struggled defensively against mobile QB’s in each of the first two weeks, but they’re not facing an ultra-athletic scrambler this week. The weather in Salt Lake City on Saturday Night will be chilly, but not nasty; nothing the kids from Southern California can’t handle. Expect the favorite to win this one comfortably. Take USC.