Utah Utes vs. USC Trojans
Date and Time: Saturday, October 14, 2017, 8 p.m. ET
Location: Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum, Los Angeles, CA
Opening College Football Odds: USC -12.5
Utah vs. USC TV Coverage: ABC
All of the best college football sportsbooks knew that Utah was a joke last week against Stanford. The Utes were ranked and were home underdogs to the unranked Cardinal. Ironically, the Utes pushed the final spread, losing 23-20 as pups by a field goal.
The stats aren't lying about this team, though. Utah has now been outdone by 88 and 52 rushing yards by Arizona and Stanford in its first two Pac-12 games of the season, and it was outgained in both games overall.
This USC team is maddening. There are drives on both sides of the ball when the Trojans look like they could line up and beat the Browns on Sundays. There are also drives when they look like they could get beaten by Cal Poly.
The win last week over Oregon State was as complete of a performance as the Trojans have had this season. They didn't cover the outrageous 33-point spread, but they put up 514 yards of offense en route to a 38-10 romp.
It was another game in which Sam Darnold looked great most of the time, yet nowhere near all the time. He was intercepted yet again while going 23-for-35 for 316 yards and three touchdowns. That's 11 games out of his last 12 in which Darnold has been intercepted at least once, a trait that NFL scouts have to be looking at closely as they determine if they want to turn their franchise over to him on Sundays next season.
Betting Trends of Note
You probably wouldn't believe it if we didn't tell you, but USC has the second-longest home winning streak in America at 13 games. The Trojans' last loss here at the Coliseum came on October 8, 2015 against Washington. Even though USC is 1-3 ATS at home this season, it's 8-5 ATS on this 13-game run.
The Utes, though, are one of the best cover teams in the nation this year at 4-0-1 ATS. They have covered five consecutive road games and haven't failed to cover as dogs on the road since October 24, 2015 when they played here at the Coliseum.
Utah vs. USC Free Picks
USC has to be a huge favorite in this game, but this 12.5-point spread might be a little much. We aren't believers that the Utes are one of the best 25 teams in America, and we think they're going to struggle for most of the Pac-12 season and end up going to a middling bowl game.
But Tyler Huntley should come back from injury this week, and that should provide a boost to an offense that has largely underachieved since Troy Williams has taken over under center. For as great of an athlete as both these quarterbacks are, Huntley's arm is the more dangerous of the two, an asset that will come in handy during this game.
The bottom line is that we can't trust the Jekyll and Hyde Trojans. There are going to be plenty of nervy moments in this game in which the Utes look like they're set to get run off the field. Yet in the end, they'll come back in the second half and make the final score look more respectable than perhaps it should be behind a defense that almost quietly ranks No. 22 or better in scoring defense, rush defense and total defense.
College Football ATS Pick: Utah +12.5 at BookMaker.eu
College Football Score Prediction: USC 34, Utah 24