College Football Week Four Predictions: Utah State Aggies at USC Trojans
Utah State Aggies at Southern California Trojans
Los Angeles Coliseum – Los Angeles, California
Saturday, September 21, 2013, 3:30 pm Eastern, TV: ABC or ESPN2
Opening Line: USC -7 (-120)
Current Line: USC -6 1/2 (-115)
Opening Total: 52
Current Total: 49 1/2
Opening Money Line: USC -245 / Utah State +205
Current Money Line: USC -260 / Utah State +215
Both the USC Trojans and Utah State Aggies are 2-1 this season. The two schools meet Saturday for just the fifth time ever. Not surprisingly, USC has won all four meetings by at lead 28 points. All four meetings were in LA, including a 66-10 beat down in the last meeting in 1989.
Utah State is coached by Matt Wells. The Aggies lost at rival Utah to open the season 30-26. The Aggies have responded with blowout wins at Air Force 52-20 and at home against Weber State 70-6 last week. Utah State is 2-1 ATS and the total is 3-0 this season. The Aggies easily covered the 39 point spread against Weber St and went over the 64.5 point total by themselves. In the last two weeks, Weber St lost at Utah and Utah State by a combined score of 140-13.
Weber St did not score until there was 50 seconds left in the game and that was on a 38 yard fumble return for a touchdown. The Wildcats missed the extra point. It was complete domination by Utah State as the Aggies had 597 total yards, including 267 rushing yards. Weber had just 138 total yards. Utah St had just the one turnover, and Weber had 2.
Utah State is outscoring teams 49.3-18.7 this season. The Aggies are averaging 550.3 total yards per game including 331.3 passing yards and 219 rushing yards. The Aggies are 15th or better nationally in scoring, total offense, and passing. On defense, Utah State is allowing 286 total yards per game, including 148 passing yards. The Aggies are #13 in both total and pass defense nationally. The Aggies are even in turnovers with 4 takeaways. Utah State is averaging 62 penalty yards per game. The Aggies are 32/49 on third and fourth down conversions. Utah State is 16/17 scoring in the red zone with 14 touchdowns.
Utah State quarterback Chuckie Keeton has completed 78.1% of his passes for 923 yards with 12 touchdowns and a pick, along with 28 carries, 187 yards and a touchdown. He is a dark horse Heisman contender. Running back Joe Hill has 39 carries, 171 yards and a touchdown, along with 11 catches for 76 yards and a touchdown. Joey DeMartino has 21 carries, 153 yards and 4 touchdowns, along with 2 catches for 27 yards. Robert Marshall has 22 carries, 106 yards and a touchdown. Receiver Travis Van Leeuwen has 13 catches, 226 yards and a touchdown. Bruce Natson has 19 catches for 159 yards. Travis Reynolds, Brandon Swindall, Keegan Andersen, D.J. Tialavea, and Ronald Butler all have two touchdown catches for the Aggies.
USC is coached by Lane Kiffin. After last year’s 7-6 record, the Trojans started this season off 2-1 with an embarrassing 10-7 loss at home to Washington State. People were calling for Kiffin’s job after that loss, but USC righted the ship somewhat with a 35-7 rout at home over Boston College last week. USC also has a 30-13 win at Hawaii. The Trojans are 1-2 ATS and the total is 0-3 this season. USC covered the 14.5 point spread against BC with ease and it stayed under the 42.5 total by a half point.
USC scored the first 28 points of the game against BC before the Eagles finally got on the board. USC would add a late touchdown to win 35-7. It was the best offensive showing so far for the Trojans, but that isn’t saying much. USC had 521 total yards including 257 rushing yards. The Trojans held Boston College to 184 total yards and 12 first downs. Neither team had a turnover but USC did have 10 penalties for 100 yards.
The Trojans are outscoring teams 24-10 this season. USC is averaging 359.3 total yards per game, including just 163.3 passing yards. USC is 81st or worst in scoring, total offense and passing. The Trojans are allowing 212.3 total yards per game including just 43.7 rushing yards per game. USC is #2 in rush defense, #4 in total defense, #9 in points allowed, and #21 in pass defense nationally. USC is +3 in turnovers with 7 takeaways. The Trojans have forced 12 sacks and allowed 6. USC is 13/41 on third and fourth down conversions. The Trojans are averaging 64.7 penalty yards per game. USC is 8/9 scoring in the red zone with 6 touchdowns.
Cody Kessler and Max Wittek are splitting the snaps but neither has been spectacular so far. Kessler has thrown for 373 yards with 3 touchdowns and 2 interceptions, along with a rushing touchdown. Wittek has thrown for 117 yards with a pick. Kessler started the BC game and looked decent throwing 2 touchdown passes. He will start against Utah St. Running back Tre Madden has 66 carries for 362 yards and a touchdown, along with 6 catches for 54 yards and a touchdown. Justin Davis has 26 carries, 172 yards and 2 touchdowns. Running backs D.J. Morgan and Silas Redd are both listed as doubtful Saturday with knee injuries, so Madden will continue to get the carries. Receiver Marqise Lee has 17 catches for 221 yards and a touchdown. Nelson Agholor has 6 catches, 90 yards and a touchdown.
Utah State is 6-0-1 ATS in September, and after allowing less than 170 passing yards, 10-1 after a straight up win, 10-1-1 after allowing 275 total yards or less, 9-1-1 after a cover, 8-1 after a straight up win of 20 points or more, 8-1-1 after allowing 20 points or less, 13-2-1 overall, 6-1 after passing for 280 yards or more, 6-1-1 in road games, 11-2 in non-conference games, 7-2 after rushing for 200 yards or more, 6-2 after scoring 40 points or more, 19-7-1 against teams with winning records, 5-2 on grass, 34-16-2 after gaining more than 450 total yards, and 2-6-1 against Pac 12 teams.
USC is 7-16 ATS after a cover, 5-12 after rushing for 200 yards or more, 2-5 in September and on grass, 2-6 against teams with winning records, and after allowing 20 points or less, 1-7 after a straight up win, 1-5 in non-conference games, and overall, 1-4 after gaining more than 450 total yards and after allowing less than 275 total yards, and 0-4 after a straight up win of 20 points or more.
Did you ever think you would see USC be less than a touchdown favorite at home against a Mountain West team other than say Boise St? Don’t be mistaken, Utah State is a very good team and has the talent to pull off the upset in the Coliseum. Kiffin is still under fire even with the win over BC, because honestly USC is supposed to dominate Boston College at home. The Trojans have been dominant on defense, but the offense has struggled. They might have turned the corner with the win over BC but we will have to see. I think Utah State keeps it close for most of the game, but USC wins a close game late.