Oregon State Beavers vs. USC Trojans
Date and Time: Saturday, October 7, 2017, 4 p.m. ET
Location: Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum, Los Angeles, CA
Opening College Football Odds: USC -34
Oregon State vs. USC TV Coverage: FOX Sports 1
It was easy to see USC's plight coming at some point. The Men of Troy were 4-0 coming into their last game of the month against Washington State, yet they really hadn't looked all that impressive in doing so. Most believed that the Cougars were going to succumb to the defensive pressure that should have come from the Trojans, but Luke Falk hung in there and legitimately outplayed Sam Darnold to snare one of the biggest wins in Washington State's history.
The question now is whether Darnold can rebound.
A man who is expected to be the top pick in the NFL Draft next year should be able to get back in fine form against a bad team like Oregon State. It has to be concerning that Darnold has just nine touchdowns against eight interceptions, even if the rest of his numbers look rock solid. You just can't turn the ball over that often in major college football and live to tell about it. Jameis Winston learned that the hard way in his senior season when the Seminoles were finally outlasted by Oregon in the Rose Bowl, and Darnold learned that against Washington State when he couldn't hang onto the ball in crucial moments, too.
When the Beavers won their last two games of the season last year, they had to think they were headed in the right general direction after a year that was largely frustrating. Instead, they've come out of the blocks in 2017 at 1-4 SU and 0-5 ATS, and they haven't been competitive in any of their four games against FBS foes.
The closest call of the bunch was a 52-23 loss to Washington State, and even in that game, the Beavers were outgained by 137 yards. Even when OSU was favored by 2.5-points against Minnesota, the Golden Gophers ran out to a 48-14 win in Corvallis. It's hard to forecast anything better happening in LA.
With Josh Luton out for the rest of the season, Oregon State has a big problem at quarterback.
Darell Garretson was supposed to bring this dual-threat of running the ball to the table immediately, yet the Beavs tried their best to fit him into the same offense that Luton was running. Garretson only ran the ball one time for a single yard, and that was never going to cut it at home against Washington.
We know that Garretson can't throw the ball from his days at Utah State. He only went 11-for-22 for 74 yards and had zero ability to stretch the field against the talented Washington secondary. Now, he's going to have to figure out how to do so against a USC secondary that might have even more pro talent out there. It's a tough ask for sure, even for a veteran pivot.
Oregon State vs. USC Free Picks
We just can't bring ourselves to laying this many points with USC, though. The Trojans are the better team, and they're going to make a mockery of this game for sure. But once we get up into the 30+ point range for point spreads in these conference games, we start to raise an eyebrow and wonder if that's justified.
The Beavers have a solid running back in Ryan Nall, and they're going to do what they can to try to shorten this game as much as possible. They were beaten by 25 the last time these two teams met in 2014, and we suspect we're going to see a somewhat similar result this time around to cover this spread.
College Football ATS Pick: Oregon State +34 at BookMaker.eu
College Football Score Prediction: USC 38, Oregon State 14