Week Nine College Football Betting Preview: Utah Utes at USC Trojans

Utah Utes at Southern California Trojans
Los Angeles Coliseum – Los Angeles, California

Saturday, October, 26, 2013, 4:00 pm Eastern, TV: Pac 12 Network
Opening Line: USC -6
Current Line: USC -6
Opening Total: 53
Current Total: 52 1/2
Opening Money Line: USC -240 / Utah +200
Current Money Line: USC -240 / Utah +200 

Utah is a 6 point underdog at USC Saturday in a key Pac 12 game.
Utah is a 6 point underdog at USC Saturday in a key Pac 12 game.

Both the Utah Utes and Southern California Trojans are 4-3 this season as they meet Saturday in LA. The Utes are 1-3 in the Pac 12 South and the Trojans are 1-2. USC leads the series 8-3 against Utah including 5-1 in Los Angeles. The Trojans won last year’s meeting in Salt Lake City 38-28.

Utah is coached by Kyle Whittingham. The Utes have home wins over Utah State 30-26, Weber State 70-7, and against previously undefeated and then #5 Stanford 27-21, along with a road win at BYU 20-13. The Utes have home losses to Oregon State 51-48 in overtime and UCLA 34-27, plus a road loss at Arizona 35-24 last week. Utah is 4-3 ATS and the total is 3-4 this season. The Utes were 3.5 point underdogs at Arizona and the total was 62.

Arizona took a 20-7 lead at halftime against Utah, including a 14 yard pick six. The Utes blocked an extra point late in the second quarter. Utah scored 14 third quarter points to take a 21-20 lead going into the fourth. Arizona regained the lead early in the fourth and successfully made a two point conversion. The Utes kicked a field goal with 7:11 left to pull within 28-24. Arizona fumbled on their next possession and Utah recovered at the Wildcat 39. The Utes missed a 40 yard field goal. The Wildcats drove down the field and scored a touchdown to ice the game 35-24. Arizona had 468 total yards including 300 rushing yards. Utah had 329 total yards including 172 rushing yards. Each team had 2 turnovers.

Utah is outscoring teams 35-27 so far this season. Utah is averaging 450.1 yards per game including 260.4 passing and 189.7 rushing yards. The Utes are 46th or better nationally in all offensive categories On defense, the Utes are allowing 412.4 yards per game, including 255 passing and 157.4 rushing yards. Utah is #95 out of 125 teams in pass defense. The Utes are -3 in turnovers with 10 takeaways. Utah is 38/109 on third and fourth down conversions and opponents are 57/136. The Utes have forced 22 sacks and allowed 11 this season. Utah is 22/24 scoring in the red zone with 16 touchdowns and opponents are 24/28 with 17 touchdowns. The Utes are averaging 48 penalty yards per game and opponents are averaging 62. Utah has two defensive touchdowns and has allowed a kickoff return for a touchdown and 2 pick sixes.

Quarterback Travis Wilson has completed 60.4% of his passes for 1,655 yards, with 14 touchdowns and 12 picks. He also has 52 carries for 300 yards and 5 touchdowns. He injured his hand in the Arizona game and back-up Adam Schulz came in to relieve him. Schulz had thrown for 168 yards with a touchdown pass, along with 10 carries for 37 yards. Wilson is listed as probable, but Schulz could see some snaps.

Running back Bubba Poole has 97 carries, 476 yards and a touchdown , along with 26 catches for 223 yards. Lucky Radley has 30 carries, 219 yards and 2 touchdowns, plus 5 catches 44 yards and a touchdown. Kelvin York, Karl Williams and Marcus Sanders-Williams all get several carries a game as well. York has 2 touchdown runs, and the other two have one. Williams also has 2 touchdown catches. Receiver Dres Anderson has 31 catches, 621 yards and 5 touchdowns, plus a rushing touchdown. Sean Fitzgerald has 23 catches, 365 yards and 4 touchdowns. Tight end Jake Murphy has 10 catches and a touchdown but is out for the season with a broken wrist. Three Ute defensive players are listed as questionable to out.

USC is coached by interim coach Ed Orgeron, who took over when Lane Kiffin was fired a few weeks ago. The Trojans have a home loss to Washington  State 10-7, and road losses at Arizona State 62-41 and last week at Notre Dame 14-10. -USC has home wins over Boston College 35-7, Utah State 17-14, and Arizona 38-31, along with a road win at Hawaii 30-13. The Trojans are 2-5 ATS and the total is 2-5 as well. USC was a 2.5 point underdog at Notre Dame and the total was 51.

USC and Notre Dame would exchange touchdowns in the first quarter to make it 7-7. The Trojans took a 10-7 lead in the second, but Notre Dame scored with just over a minute to go before halftime to make it 14-10. Neither team would score in the second half. USC had 330 total yards including 201 passing yards. Notre Dame had 295 total yards including 166 passing yards. Each team had a turnover. USC had 11 penalties for 95 yards.

The Trojans are outscoring teams 25-22 this season. USC is #84 in scoring and #29 in points allowed out of 125 teams. USC is averaging 396.9 total yards per game, including 206.7 passing and 190.1 rushing yards. USC is #79 in total offense and #89 in passing.  The Trojans are allowing 333.9 total yards per game including just 110.3 rushing yards per game and 223.6 passing yards. USC is #15 in both rush defense and total defense nationally. USC is -1 in turnovers with 9 takeaways.  The Trojans have forced 21 sacks and allowed 15. USC is 30/100 on third and fourth down conversions and opponents are 37/112. The Trojans are averaging 64 penalty yards per game and opponents are averaging 53.  USC is 17/19 scoring in the red zone with 13 touchdowns, and opponents are 13/18 with 10 touchdowns. The Trojans have one pick six this season and have allowed two.

Cody Kessler and Max Wittek were splitting the snaps at quarterback but Kessler appears to have won the job as he has taken all of the snaps the last three games.  Kessler has thrown for 1,330 yards with 8 touchdowns and 5 interceptions, along with a rushing touchdown. Wittek has thrown for 117 yards with a pick.

Running back Tre Madden has 115 carries for 611 yards and 3 touchdowns, along with  13 catches for 198 yards and 4 touchdowns. He is questionable with a hamstring injury after missing the Notre Dame game.  Justin Davis has 53 carries, 361 yards and 6 touchdowns, along with a catch. He is out for the season with an ankle injury. Silas Redd has 38 carries, 192 yards and a touchdown, along with a catch. Javorius Allen has 27 catches, 135 yards and 2 touchdowns, along with 2 catches. Running back D.J. Morgan is listed as questionable Saturday with a knee injury.

Receiver Nelson Agholor has 24 catches, 442 yards and 2 touchdowns. He is questionable for undisclosed reasons. Marqise Lee has 32 catches for 403 yards and a touchdown. He is out Saturday with a knee injury.  Xavier Grimble has 10 catches, 127 yards and a touchdown. Five defensive players and two offensive linemen are listed on the injury report for the Trojans.

Utah is 9-3 ATS after a straight up loss, 5-2 after failing to cover, and after passing for 170 yards or less, 2-5 against teams with a winning home record, against teams with winning records, and after allowing 450 yards or more, 1-4 in road games, 1-6 in Pac 12 games, 0-4 after allowing 200 rushing yards or more, and 0-6 after allowing less than 170 passing yards.

USC is 19-9 ATS after a straight up loss, 2-5 in Pac 12 games, and in October, 3-9 against teams with winning records, 2-6 on grass, 2-8 overall, 1-5 after allowing 20 points or less, and 0-5 against teams with winning road records.

The USC offense isn’t exactly explosive with Madden, Davis, Agholar, and Lee, much less without them. Still, the Trojans have a dominant defense, and that should be enough to win a close very low scoring game against the unpredictable and inconsistent Utes.

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