UCLA at #23 USC
Time: 2 PM CST, Saturday
Spread: USC -13
Odds c/o 5dimes
The USC Trojans is 7-4, but it has fared 6-2 in Pac 12 play and trails Utah by just a half-game for the Pac-12 South Division lead. It will attempt to gain on Utah as it enters this week’s matchup as 13-point favorites over visiting UCLA. The over/under is set at 65 points according to college football oddsmakers at 5dimes, and the game will air at 2:30 PM (CST) on ABC.
USC has done well in Conference play this season winning three-fourths of those matchups (.750), but it needs to close the season with a win and a Utah loss to claim the division. The Trojans have been a strong passing team all season, ranking No. 11 in the nation at 319.6 yards per game. The offense is strong in scoring 31.5 points, despite a rush attack that generates just 126.1 per game. Even so, USC limits opponents to just 27.1, giving it a point differential of +4.4 points.
The Trojans have depended heavily on the arm of Kedon Slovis for its offensive dominance. He has thrown for 2,727 yards at 70.8 percent completion ratio while having launched 24 touchdowns and just nine interceptions. His passer rating is 162.9. Slovis is terrible rushing the football, though. He has 37 attempts this season for a total of negative-35 yards. Fortunately, the top-two running backs each average 4.7 and 5.5, respectively, as Vavae Malepeai and Kenan Christon have combined for nearly 800 yards and six touchdowns between them. The Trojans have an average of 4.1 yards-per-carry as a team.
USC’s top receiver Michael Pittman Jr. has been outright dominant this season. He has topped 1.1k yards with nine touchdowns. No. 2 WR Tyler Vaughns trails him at 752 yards and five touchdowns, and the Trojans also have Amon-Ra St. Brown in the mix with 751 yards and six touchdowns. Three others have caught 100 yards or more on the season, including Tight end Erik Krommenhoek who has caught 11 passes for 122 yards but has no touchdowns to his credit.
UCLA is 4-6 this season with a 4-3 mark in Pac 12 play. It lost 3-49 to Utah last week, but prior to that, it had won three-straight against Colorado, Arizona State, and Stanford.
The Bruins have been very poor defensively all season, though. It allows 33.7 per game while scoring 26.7 itself, good for a negative point differential of -7.0. The pass offense and rush offense are both middle-of-the-pack, and there are few outstanding silver linings in what may end up being a losing season. If the Bruins close the season with two straight wins it can finish .500 and have an outside shot at a Bowl appearance.
UCLA’s star has been quarterback Dorian Thompson-Robinson. He has 2,056 passing yards, 17 passing touchdowns, and 10 interceptions. He has also rushed for 168 yards and three touchdowns. Complemented well by lead running back Joshua Kelley (939 yards, 10 touchdowns) the Bruins do average 3.8 yards-per-rush as a team, but no one with more than 10 attempts averages better than five per. Three receiving options total 400 yards on the season, and UCLA has 18 passing TDs to its 15 via the rush. Kyle Philips leads the team in catches (43), yardage (490), and touchdowns (5).
ATS TRENDS (C/o Covers):