College Football Picks: Washington State Cougars at #25 USC Trojans

Washington State Cougars at #25 Southern California Trojans
Los Angeles Coliseum – Los Angeles, California
Saturday, September 7, 2013, 10:30 pm Eastern, TV: Fox Sports One
Opening Line: USC -17
Current Line: USC -15 1/2
Opening Total: 52
Current Total: 54
Opening Money Line: USC -650 / Washington St +485
Opening Money Line: USC -650 / Washington St +485

USC is a 15.5 point favorite in the Pac 12 opener at home against Washington State.
USC is a 15.5 point favorite in the Pac 12 opener at home against Washington State.

The #25 Southern Cal Trojans open Pac 12 play at home against the Washington State Cougars Saturday night. USC leads the series 58-8-4 and has won 40 of the last 45 meetings, 34 of 38, and 8 in a row. The Trojans won the last meeting in 2010 50-16 in Pullman. They haven’t played since the conference expanded to 12 teams and two divisions.

Washington State is coached by Mike Leach, The Cougars opened the season at Auburn last week. Washington St was a 14 point underdog and the total was 60.5. The Cougars scored first less than 5 minutes into the game on a 4 yard touchdown run from Jeremiah Laufasa. Auburn would score with 2:26 left in the first, and made a two point conversion to make it 8-7. In the second the teams would alternate touchdowns again over a two minute stretch to make it 22-21 Auburn. The Tigers then kicked a field goal with just over a minute to go before halftime to make it 25-21.

In the second half Auburn added another field goal to make it 28-21. Washington St kicked a a field goal with 4 minutes left in the third to make it 28-24.  Auburn kicked another field goal with 9 minutes to go in the fourth to go up 31-24. On the next WSU possession, they drove all the way to the Auburn 8 and had first and goal. QB Connor Halliday threw an interception in the end zone which resulted in a touchback. Auburn advanced to the 50 on two plays, but fumbled and it was recovered by Washington St. The Cougars drove to the Auburn 27 but turned it over on downs. Auburn ran out the clock to secure the victory.

Washington State had 464 total yards including 344 passing yards and 28 first downs. The Cougars were 7/17 on third down conversions and 2 for 4 on fourth down. Washington State had 5 penalties and 3 costly turnovers. Auburn had 394 total yards including 295 rushing yards and 16 first downs. The Tigers were 4/14 on third down conversions. Auburn also had 5 penalties and just the one turnover on the fumble.

Halliday completed 35 of 65 passes for 344 yards with a touchdown and 3 picks, and also rushed for 14 yards. Runing back Teondray Caldwell had 7 carries for 53 yards, and also caught 3 passes for 14 yards. Laufasa had 2 rushing touchdowns. Receiver Gabe Marks had 9 catches for 81 yards. Bobby Ratliff had 3 catches, 66 yards and a touchdown.

USC is coached by Lane Kiffin. The Trojans opened the season at Hawaii last week as 23.5 point favorites with a total of 52. It was a slow start for the Trojans as they could only manage a field goal for the first 26 minutes of the first half. Hawaii, couldn’t score much either though, as they could only manage a field goal and a safety to make it 5-3. USC scored 17 points over the last 4:18 of the first half to make it 20-5 at halftime. Neither team scored in the third, but USC added another field goal early in the fourth to go up 23-5. The Trojans scored a touchdown with 42 seconds left to go up 30-5 and get the apparent cover. However, Hawaii would score on a 60 touchdown pass from quarterback Taylor Graham to receiver Keith Kirkwood and also successfully converted for two to make it 30-13 and get inside the number.

USC had 364 total yards including 192 rushing yards and 23 first downs. The Trojans were 3/14 on third down conversions. USC had 9 penalties for 75 yards and 2 turnovers. Hawaii had 231 total yards and 31 rushing yards with 15 first downs. The Rainbow Warriors were 4/18 on third down conversions. Hawaii had 4 turnovers.

USC used two quarterbacks, sophomores Cody Kessler and Max Wittek. Neither was that impressive. Kessler was 10/19 passing for 95 yards with a touchdown and an interception. Wittek was 5 /10 for 77 yards. Running back Tre Madden had 18 carries for 109 yards, plus a catch for 10 yards. Justin Davis had 14 carries for 74 yards and a touchdown. Receiver Marqise Lee had 8 catches for 104 yards. Nelson Agholor caught a touchdown pass.  USC running backs Silas Redd and D.J. Morgan are both doubtful with knee injuries after missing the Hawaii game.

Washington St is 5-0 ATS against teams with winning records, and after allowing more than 200 rushing yards, 4-1 after gaining more than 450 total yards, 1-3-1 in September, and 1-4 after a cover. The over is 10-3 in the last 13 in this series.

USC is 2-5 ATS in conference games, 7-20 after allowing less than 100 rushing yards, 1-4 in September and on grass, 1-5 after allowing less than 275 total yards and 20 points, 1-6 after a straight up win, and 0-4 overall. The Trojans are 6-2 ATS against the Cougars in the last 8 and were favored in each of those contests.

USC struggled in the passing game last week. They can do that against a Hawaii team that will struggle to score, but they could be in for a battle if they do that against a Washington State team that could be explosive on offense with Leach’s “Air Raid” system. Washington State probably should have beaten Auburn on the road, but made to many mistakes. If they can clean it up, I think they hang around USC and have at least a chance of pulling off the upset. Still, I think USC pulls out a tough win at home.

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