Week Six Thursday Night Pac 12 Betting Preview: USC Trojans at Utah Utes

#13 Southern California Trojans at Utah Utes
Thursday, October 4, 2012, 9:00 pm Eastern, TV: ESPN
Rice-Eccles Stadium – Salt Lake City, Utah
Opening Line: USC -13 1/2
Current Line: USC -13 1/2
Opening Total: 48
Current Total: 47 1/2
Opening Money Line: USC -500 / Utah +400
Current Money Line: USC -500 / Utah +400

USC is a 13.5 point favorite Thursday night at Utah in Pac 12 action.

Last year, USC and Utah met in the first ever Pac 12 game in Los Angeles. It turned out to be a memorably controversial game for bettors. The Trojans were up 17-14, but the Utes were attempting a 41 yard field goal on the last play of the game to send the game into overtime. USC blocked the kick and ran it back for a touchdown. However, the Trojan players ran on the field and celebrated before the play was over. The dead ball foul was negated by the end of the game. No official touchdown signal was given by the referees, so most assumed the final score was 17-14 USC. The sportsbooks in Vegas and the offshores all posted the final and paid off on Utah and the under. However, two hours later Pac 12 officials said the touchdown on the blocked field goal counted and the final was now 23-14 Trojans. The problem was USC closed as a 7.5 point favorite at most books and the total was 37. So that touchdown gave the Trojans the cover and made the total a push.

This year, the two teams meet in Salt Lake City. USC leads the series 7-3, and they started playing in 1915. Utah won the first two games in the series, but USC has gone 7-1 since those two Ute wins in 1915 and 1916. The only Utah win since then came in the 2001 Las Vegas Bowl. The Trojans haven’t played in Salt Lake City since 1917, and the series is 1-1 there. The teams have only played 3 times since 1948, all since 1993.

The #13 USC Trojans are 3-1 this season and 1-1 in the Pac 12 under coach Lane Kiffin. The Trojans have wins over Hawaii 49-10 and Cal 27-9 both at home, and a 42-29 win against Syracuse in New Jersey. USC’s hopes for a national title took a serious hit with a 21-14 loss at Stanford three weeks ago. The Trojans were off last week, as was Utah to avoid a short week since they are playing on Thursday night this week. Two weeks ago, USC was a 16.5 point favorite at home against California and the total was 56.5. Cal pulled to within 7-3 early in the second quarter, bt the Trojans scored 10 straight to take a 17-3 halftime lead. The Golden Bears added 2 third quarter field goals to pull within 17-9 but would not score again. USC added to 10 fourth quarter points to get their first cover in 4 tries this season. The game also went way under the total, making the under 3-1 this season in USC games.

USC was supposed to have one of the most explosive offenses in the country,but so far the Trojans have been average at best. USC is averaging 422 yards per game including, 256.8 passing yards and 165.2 rushing yards. On defene, the Trojans are allowing 346.5 yards per game including 229.5 passing yards and 117 rushing yards. USC is outscoring teams 33-17.2 this season. The Trojans have forced 10 turnovers this season, and have a turnover margin of +2. USC is averaging 75 penalty yards per game.

USC quarterback Matt Barkley has completed 88 of 143 passes (61.5%) for 1,005 yards with 12 touchdowns and 5 interceptions. He has been sacked 7 times in four games this season. Barkley came back to USC for his senior season, and was the pre-season Heisman favorite. Barkley hasn’t been terrible this season, but hasn’t lived up to those lofty expectations. Running back Silas Redd has 58 carries, 338 yards and 4 touchdowns, along with 2 catches for 39 yards. Curtis McNeal has 33 carries, for 225 yards, along with a catch for 20 yards. Receiver Marqise Lee has 40 catches, 257 yards and 6 touchdowns, along with 31 rushing yards. Lee also has a kickoff return for a touchdown. Robert Woods has 25 catches, 203 yards, and 4 touchdowns, along with 76 rushing yards. Lee and Woods are arguably the best receiver tandem in the country, but no other Trojan has more than 7 catches. Four Trojan defensive player are out indefinitely or for the season.

Utah is 2-2 this season and 0-1 in the Pac 12 under coach Kyle Whittingham. The Utes have home wins over Northern Colorado 41-0 and BYU 24-21 and road losses at Utah St 27-20 and two weeks ago at Arizona St 37-7. Utah was never in the game, as ASU took a 31-7 lead at halftime.The Sun Devils added two second half field goals and easily covered the 7 point spread. The game stayed under the 50.5 point total. Utah is 1-3 ATS and the total is   1-2 this season. In the ASU game, Utah had 209 total yards, 10 first downs, six penalties for 53 yards and 3 penalties.

Utah has one of the worst offenses in the country averaging 298.2 yards per game including 190.8 passing yards and 107.5 rushing yards per game. The Utes are 105th or worse out of 124 FBS teams in all three categories. Utah is outscoring opponents 23-21.2. Outside of scoring 41 points against lowly Northern Colorado, Utah hasn’t scored more than 24 points in any of their other 3 games. The Utes are 24/70 on third and fourth down conversions. Utah has a turnover margin of -1, and is averaging 68 penalty yards per game. Utah is allowing 11 sacks per game. On defense, Utah is allowing 329.5 yards per game including 218.2 passing yards and 111.2 rushing yards. The Utes are in the top 30 nationally in rushing and total defense. Utah has forced 11 sacks this season.

Utah quarterback Jordan Wynn quit football when he suffered his third shoulder injury in 12 months. Jon Hays has taken over as the starter from Wynn. Hays has completed 40 of 68 passes (58.8%) for 467 yards with 4 touchdowns and an interception. He has been sacked 7 times. If Hays continues to struggle, freshman Travis Wilson could see some time at quarterback. He has completed all 4 of his passes for 49 yards with a touchdown, and also has 2 rushing touchdowns. Running back John White IV has 65 carries, 233 yards and a touchdown, along with 5 catches for 39 yards. White has struggled this season after rushing for over 1,500 yards last season. Kelvin York and Jarrell Oliver will also get some carries. Hays has 14 carries and Wilson has 15. Eight Utah receivers have at least 5 catches, but no one has more than 9. Kenneth Scott (6 catches, 134 yards, and 2 touchdowns), Dres Anderson (8 catches, 116 yards, and a touchdown, tight end Jake Murphy (9 catches, 91 yards, and 2 touchdowns), and DeVonte Christopher (9 catches for 83 yards) are the top receivers. Four other Utah players besides Wynn are out for the season,

USC has gone 185 straight games without being shutout, one shy of the school record of 186 games. The Trojans are 5-1 ATS in conference games, 4-1 after a cover, 13-5 after a bye week, 5-2 in Thursday games, 7-3 after gaining 450 total yards, 9-4 in road games, 9-19 in October, 8-17 after allowing 20 points or less, 7-17 after allowing 100 rushing yards or less, 4-10 after rushing for more than 200 yards, and 3-8 after allowing less than 275 yards.

Utah is 4-0 ATS after a straight up loss, 4-1 after scoring less than 20 points, 6-2 at home against teams with winning road records, 8-3 after a bye week, 3-7 at home and against teams with winning records, 5-12 in conference games, 2-5 overall, and after allowing 280 passing yards, 2-6 after passing for less than 170 yards, 1-4 on fieldturf, and 0-3-1 in Thursday games.

Both of these teams have really good defenses, and have struggled on offense. USC has way more talent on offense and can more easily break out of their slump. I don’t see this game going over the total, but USC should cover, even on the road.

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