The No. 4 USC Trojans will get the 2017 season underway with a home game against the Western Michigan Broncos. Kickoff is set for 5:15 EST on Saturday, Sept. 2nd at the LA Memorial Coliseum. The game will be televised on the Pac-12 Network.
Oddsmakers currently have USC listed as a 27.5-point favorite with the total set at 58 points. Quite a bit of line movement in favor of the Trojans, as this line originally had USC laying just 22. The total has jumped a point, since it started out at 57.5. Click here for more week 1 odds and game leans.
USC vs Western Michigan Vegas Game Preview & Betting Odds
The Trojans started out last year 1-3, which included a shocking 6-52 loss to Alabama in the season opener. That poor start led to head coach Clay Helton benching starting QB Max Browne in favor of red-shirt freshman Sam Darnold. Needless to say it paid off. USC won their final 9 games, which included a 26-13 win at Washington, who made the playoffs.
A lot of people feel this was one of the 4 best teams at the end of last year. With Darnold back, it’s easy to see why exceptions are sky high in Los Angeles. Overall the Trojans have 12 returning starters in what will be year number 3 under head coach Clay Helton.
Good chance you know the story with Western Michigan from last year. Head coach P.J. Fleck and the Broncos “Row the Boat” mantra were the talk of the country. Western Michigan went undefeated in the regular season and won the MAC title to get to 13-0. They got invited to a New Year’s Six bowl, where they played well in 16-24 loss to No. 8 Wisconsin.
Not bad for a team that finished 1-11 back in 2013. The problem is the success came at a cost. Fleck left for Minnesota. He’s been replaced by one of the Bronco’s all-time greats in Tim Lester. He’s got big shoes to fill and will have to do it with just 12 starters back. Not to mention he has to replace an elite talent at WR in Corey Davis and the school’s all-time leading passer.
Free NCAA Football Pick Against the Spread: USC -27.5
I’m not so sure what Western Michigan accomplished last year isn’t playing into this line a little. USC won their final 7 conference games last year. By an average of 20-points. I just think this line should be a lot more, especially given everything that the Broncos loss.
You also can’t overlook this game being at home for the Trojans. This isn’t your typical road game for Western Michigan and I think they could be a little overwhelmed by the Coliseum.
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While USC only average 34.4 ppg last year, they scored 40+ 6 times over their final 9 games. They are going to have a field day here against a Western Michigan defense that is installing a brand new defense. The Broncos more than anything, don’t have the speed to compete with the likes of USC’s talent.
With the Trojans almost certain to score early and often, Western Michigan will be forced to pass a lot more than they would like. That figures to be a problem. There’s no chance the new QB puts up anywhere close to last year’s numbers (3,500+ yards, 33-4 TD-INT). Not only do they lose a special talent in Davis, they lose their two next best receivers from last season. On top of that, they got a new offense with the coaching change.
I could see a slight concern here with the fact that USC has Stanford on deck, who they have revenge against. However, I think this team feels like they have something to prove and the juices are going to be flowing for the first game of the season. Even more incentive for the Trojans to come out and put this game away early. I’m confident the USC backups won’t give up the backdoor cover.