Pac 12 College Football Picks: USC Trojans at Arizona State Sun Devils
Southern California Trojans at Arizona State Sun Devils
Sun Devil Stadium – Tempe, Arizona
Saturday, September 28, 2013, 10:30 pm Eastern, TV: ESPN2
Opening Line: Arizona State -5
Current Line: Arizona State -4
Opening Total: 49 1/2
Current Total: 49
Opening Money Line: ASU -265 / USC +225
Current Money Line: ASU -180 / USC +160
The 3-1 USC Trojans and the 2-1 Arizona State Sun Devils are both 0-1 in Pac 12 play as the two teams meet in Tempe Saturday night. The losers faces danger of falling out of the Pac 12 South title race. USC leads the series 19-10 but they had a 2005 win against ASU vacated by the NCAA. The Trojans are 9-6 in Tempe against the Sun Devils. USC has won 12 of the last 13 against Arizona State including a 38-17 win last year in Los Angeles.
USC is coached by Lane Kiffin, who despite two wins in a row remains firmly on the hot seat. The Trojans have wins at Hawaii 30-13, and at home against Boston College 35-7 and last week against Utah State 17-14. USC lost at home to Washington State 10-7 to open Pac 12 play 3 weeks ago. The Trojans are 1-3 ATS and all four games have gone under the total. Southern Cal was only a 6.5 point favorite against a good Mountain West team Utah State last week and the total was 49.5.
USC opened the scoring in the first quarter with a touchdown to go up 7-0. The two teams exchanged touchdowns in the second quarter making it 14-7 Trojans. Utah State tied it up at 14 with just under 7 minutes to go in the third. USC kicked a 25 yard field goal very early in the fourth quarter to take a 17-14 lead. Utah State had three more possessions after that but never advanced past their own 47 and USC escaped with the narrow victory. The Aggies missed a 37 yard field goal in the first quarter. Neither team could get much going on offense as USC had 382 total yards and Utah State had 385. The Trojans had the only turnover of the game on a fumble. Both teams had a lot of penalties. Utah State had 11 for 89 yards and USC had 8 for 58.
The Trojans are outscoring teams 22-11 this season. USC is #95 in scoring and #11 in points allowed out of 125 teams. USC is averaging 340 total yards per game, including just 163.5 passing yards. USC is #107 in total offense and #110 in passing. The Trojans are allowing 230.5 total yards per game including just 59.2 rushing yards per game and 171.2 passing yards. USC is #3 in rush defense, #4 in total defense and #23 in pass defense nationally. USC is +2 in turnovers with 7 takeaways. The Trojans have forced 16 sacks and allowed 9. USC is 17/55 on third and fourth down conversions and opponents are 20/69. The Trojans are averaging 63 penalty yards per game and opponents are averaging 57. USC is 10/12 scoring in the red zone with 7 touchdowns, and opponents are 2/5 with 2 touchdowns. The Trojans have one pick six this season.
Cody Kessler and Max Wittek were splitting the snaps at quarterback but Kessler appears to have won the job as he has taken most of the snaps the last two games. Kessler has thrown for 537 yards with 4 touchdowns and 2 interceptions, along with a rushing touchdown. Kessler is probable with a hand injury. Wittek has thrown for 117 yards with a pick. Running back Tre Madden has 90 carries for 455 yards and 2 touchdowns, along with 9 catches for 69 yards and a touchdown. Justin Davis has 32 carries, 189 yards and 2 touchdowns. Running backs D.J. Morgan and Silas Redd are both listed as questionable Saturday with knee injuries, so Madden should continue to get the carries. Receiver Marqise Lee has 23 catches for 293 yards and a touchdown. He is also probable with an ankle injury. Nelson Agholor has 8 catches, 128 yards and a touchdown. Xavier Grimble has 8 catches, 88 yards and a touchdown.
Arizona State is coached by Todd Graham. The Sun Devils opened with home wins against Sacramento State 55-0 and Wisconsin 32-30. Last week, the Sun Devils traveled to #5 Stanford and were beaten 42-28. ASU is 1-2 ATS and all three games have gone over the total. The Sun Devils were 6.5 point underdogs at Stanford and the total was 52.
Stanford jumped out to a 13-0 lead in the first but missed an extra point on their second touchdown. In the second quarter, the Cardinal added 16 more points, including 2 touchdowns and a safety to take a 29-0 lead into halftime. Arizona St finally got on the board early in the third on a 2 yard touchdown run from running back Marion Grice to make it 29-7. Stanford added 10 points before the end of the third to take a 39-7 into the fourth. ASU quarterback Taylor Kelly threw three straight touchdown passes to pull the Sun Devils within 39-28, and within striking distance of the back door cover with 6:18 left. However, Stanford drove all the way down to the ASU 7 and kicked a field goal with 31 seconds left to make it 42-28. The game ended on an Arizona State Hail Mary attempt on the last play that was intercepted in the end zone. Arizona State had 417 yards including 367 passing yards from Kelly. Stanford had 391 total yards including 240 rushing yards. ASU had two turnovers and Stanford had one.
Arizona State is outscoring teams 38-24. The Sun Devils are averaging 469.3 yards per game, including 361.3 passing yards. ASU is #8 in passing nationally and #35 in scoring. On defense, the Sun Devils are allowing 333 yards per game, including 159 passing yards. Arizona State is 17th in pass defense and #35 in total defense. The Sun Devils are +2 in turnovers with 6 takeaways. ASU is 26/60 on third and fourth down conversions and opponents are 20/48. The Sun Devils are 12/15 scoring in the red zone with 9 touchdowns and opponents are 9/11 with 6 touchdowns. The Sun Devils ahve allowed one defensive touchdown this season.
ASU quarterback Taylor Kelly has completed 59.9% of his passes for 1,019 yards with 8 touchdowns, and 3 interceptions, and also has 23 carries for 45 yards. Running back Marion Grice has 53 carries, 193 yards and 6 touchdowns, along with 15 catches, 147 yards and 2 touchdowns. Receiver Jaelen Strong has 24 catches, 330 yards and 2 touchdowns. Running back D.J. Foster has 19 catches for 178 yards along with 32 rushing yards. Chris Coyle has 6 catches, 126 yards and 2 scores. Three defensive players in the front 7 are listed as doubtful or out.
USC is 14-6 ATS after passing for less than 170 yards, 2-6 in September, 2-7 against teams with winning records, 1-4 in Pac 12 games, on grass, and after allowing 20 points or less, 1-6 overall, 0-5 against teams with winning home records, 0-4 after a straight up win, and 0-8 in road games. Five of the last seven in this series have gone over the total.
Arizona State is 5-2-1 after rushing for less than 100 yards, 2-5 in Pac 12 games, 2-6 against teams with winning records, 2-7 after a straight up loss, 2-8 after failing to cover, and 1-4 after passing for 280 yards or more. The Sun Devils have covered 4 of the last 5 against the Trojans overall, and are 5-2 ATS against USC in Tempe.
USC is relying on their dominant defense because the offense isn’t very good to say the least. Arizona State has an explosive passing offense and the defense isn’t terrible especially against the pass. I think Arizona State wins this game by double digits because I don’t see USC being able to keep up with them on offense.
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