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USC vs. Washington State ATS Picks

Week 5 Football Lines

Martin Stadium hasn’t seen a moment quite like this for years.

The Washington State Cougars are going to be the subject of a slew of national attention in the lead-in to Week 5 of the campaign. They’re sporting a spotless record as we head into the end of September, and they’ve got the USC Trojans coming to town in one of the biggest home games in the history of this program. This is the moment where Mike Leach can affirm this team as a National Championship contender this season for sure.

USC Trojans vs. Washington State Cougars
Date and Time
: Friday, September 29, 2017, 10:30 p.m. ET
Location: Martin Stadium, Pullman, WA
Opening College Football Odds: USC -4
USC vs. Washington State TV Coverage: ESPN

The Trojans have to be considered a bit underwhelming at this point in the season. Sure they’re 4-0, but they really haven’t asserted themselves and pounded an opponent into submission as we were expecting to see time and time again this year.

Still, 4-0 is 4-0, and Clay Helton deserves a lot of credit for keeping this team on the up and up after last year’s 1-3 start to the campaign. If the Trojans turn on the jets at the end of this year as they did at the end of last year, they’ll be in the College Football Playoff for the first time in their history for sure.

We’ll admit that we’re still a little concerned about Sam Darnold and his seven picks in four games. He’s thrown for 1,225 yards and is averaging 8.4 yards per pass attempt, though. When his team has needed him to march down the field and get some points on the board, he’s done just that, and that’s the difference between this year’s team and the one that started just 1-3 last year.

But Washington State is going to be ready for this for sure. The Cougars are 4-0 having beaten Montana State, Boise State, Oregon State and Nevada, and outside of the Boise game, none of those outings have been all that close.

It’s been the Luke Falk show for Leach and company this year. Falk has been superb, throwing for 1,378 yards and 14 touchdowns in four games against just one interception. He missed the comeback against Boise State, but that hasn’t stopped his statistical onslaught. With receivers like Tavares Martin Jr., James Williams and Isaiah Johnson-Mack, all of whom have at least 230 yards and at least 24 receptions in four games, who could blame anyone for truly believing in this team this year?

Matchup to Watch

This is really all about the USC defensive line against the Washington State offensive line. We know that the Cougars are going to try to get the ball out of Falk’s hands in a hurry, but we saw the same sort of strategy last week for Cal against the Trojans.

It wasn’t until the fourth quarter when USC’s defensive line finally took over that that game turned on its head. The Trojans have had a history of finally winning games in the trenches this year, led by Christian Rector. Rector had two sacks and a forced fumble, and he’s asked to be the man who wrecks opposing passing games when the Trojans rush just four men. That will be the case again versus Washington State on Friday night.

USC vs. Washington State Free Picks

If you just blindly trusted all of the best sportsbooks, you’d think this is going to be a game. There’s no doubt that there’s going to be a huge percentage of the bets on Washington State to pull off this upset.

We just don’t see it, though.

It’s been a few years since these two teams have met, but the Washington State defense had absolutely no answers for the Trojans the last time these two teams met in a 44-17 win for the Men of Troy here at Martin Stadium. We have to imagine we’re going to see similar in this game.

Bank on the stout USC front seven to ultimately take this game over and force Leach to push the panic button relatively early. Boise State didn’t live to tell about the Cougs in the end when it blew a big lead. USC won’t make that same mistake.

College Football ATS Pick: USC -4 at
College Football Score Prediction: USC 42, Washington State 21