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Arizona State at USC ATS Picks

NCAAF Week 5 Picks

It may be his first full season on the job, but Clay Helton is feeling the pressure after an awful start. The USC Trojans are 1-3 and with a pretty tough schedule still to come, this team is in danger of finishing the season with a losing record. Now the 4-0 Arizona State Sun Devils come to town with hopes of sending the Trojans to 1-4 and announcing themselves as contenders for the PAC-12 South. A Sun Devils upset could be the tipping point for the Helton era and makes this game worth keeping an eye on in Week 5 College Football action.

Arizona State Sun Devils at USC Trojans
Date and Time
: Saturday, October 1 2016, 8:30 p.m. ET
Location: Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum, Los Angeles, CA
Week 5 College Football Odds at BookMaker.eu: USC -8
Arizona State at USC TV Coverage: FOX

Helton has already started to feel the pressure and announced prior to last week’s game against Utah that redshirt freshman Sam Darnold would take the reins at quarterback. It feels like somewhat of a raw deal for Max Browne as the former No. 1 recruit struggled against two of the best defenses in the country in USC and played well against Utah State.

Darnold has a ton of talent to work with though and showed that he has a connection with star WR JuJu Smith-Schuster. Smith-Schuster had his best game of the season against Utah and getting him touches makes this offense far more explosive.

Arizona State may be 4-0 but has looked extremely vulnerable despite the hot start. The Sun Devils needed a furious fourth quarter rally to knock off UTSA two weeks ago and needed 24 points in the final six-and-a-half minutes of action to emerge victorious against California last week.

The Sun Devils look like they have a budding star at quarterback in Manny Wilkins. Wilkins is the first true dual-threat that Todd Graham has had in Tempe and has been very effective so far. USC has a far better defense than any he has faced to date though and he won’t have the same success against the Trojans.

Matchup to Watch

The Sun Devils’ pass defense has been dreadful this season and Darnold and the USC receivers should have a field day. Arizona State has allowed over 400 YPG through the air this season and has also given up 14 passing touchdowns, two of the highest totals of any team in college football.

The trio of Smith-Schuster, Darreus Rogers, and Steven Mitchell are going to be able to get open and run free all night long on this defense. The big question is whether or not Darnold will be able to get them the ball as he will be making just his second start.

Key Stat

Coming into this season, the main concern was the youth and inexperience along the defensive line and that group has had some issues through the first four games.

The Trojans are allowing 4.69 yards per carry and that number isn’t bad considering the quality of competition they have faced. However, what has been bad is a non-existent pass rush. USC has a paltry 5 sacks and that means quarterbacks have had plenty of time to throw the ball against this defense. That’s why the Trojans’ pass defense numbers aren’t as good as they should be despite a star-studded secondary.

Arizona State at USC Free Picks

The Trojans are an 8-point favorite per the odds at BookMaker.eu in this game and this is the type of game they should dominate if they are going to save their season. USC is vastly more talented than Arizona State and annihilated this team 42-14 on the road last year. The Trojans should have no problem scoring points here and the defense is talented enough to shut down the Sun Devils.

The main question is one of effort. If USC loses this game it will likely be because the team has given up on both the season and Helton. The Trojans cruised in their previous home game this season and should again.

Arizona State at USC ATS Pick: USC -8 at BookMaker.eu

Arizona State at USC Score Prediction: USC 38 – Arizona State 20