USC at Arizona State
Saturday, 7:45 pm PT - ESPN
CRIS Opener: USC -3 O/U 58
CRIS Current: USC -3.5 O/U 59
Arizona State is one of the most interesting teams in college football. One one hand you have a team with three outright wins at double-digit underdogs. On the other hand, a statistical profile that is downright ugly. Despite their 4-3 overall, 3-1 PAC-12 records, the Sun Devils have been outgained by nearly a full yard per play (6.19 ypp allowed, 5.22 ypp gained) this season. And you can also make a case that a majority of ASU's opponents were later discovered to be overrated. San Diego State has recently been exposed as has Texas Tech. Since losing in Tempe, Oregon has dropped three of four; albeit with a backup quarterback. Washington was clearly living off last year's accomplishments and an ultra-soft schedule and Utah has been dealing with a lack of stability at the quarterback position. To call ASU a complete "fraud" is probably too harsh, but I have a hard time buying into this squad despite a handful of at-the-time impressive wins.
USC limps into this contest after getting bullied by Notre Dame from start to finish. Yes, the Trojans' -3 turnover margin played a part, but the Irish were able to do whatever they wanted to offensively (7.2 ypp) despite only throwing for 120 yards. USC returns to a more comfortable environment where they won't be outclassed in the trenches. And the team's statistical profile (+0.88 ypp vs. PAC-12) and strength of schedule (8th according to Sagarin) remains impressive.
Bettors need to be aware of the pointspread adjustment. Against Oregon, ASU was catching +14.5. Against Washington, +17.5. Now, the Sun Devils are +3.5 against a USC squad that is certainly on par with those two squads from a power rating standpoint. And don't forget USC's futility vs. the spread (1-7 YTD) and their "decline" in the betting markets. A month ago, this squad was -4.5 at Washington State! Worth seeking out a -3 as we “buy low” on the road side.