The USC Trojans (1-2) will look to turn their season around on Friday night when they host the undefeated Washington State Cougars (3-0) in a Pac-12 showdown. Kickoff is set for 10:30 PM EST at LA Memorial Stadium and the game will be televised nationally on ESPN.
Taking a look at the Week 4 college football odds, the books opened with USC as a 4-point home favorite. That line has shifted slightly after early betting, as the Trojans are currently listed at -3.5. The total for the game is sitting at 52 points.
Vegas Betting Preview & Game Odds: USC vs Washington State
The Cougars improved to 3-0 on the season last weekend after crushing Eastern Washington 59-24 at home. Washington State jumped out to an early lead and never looked back, racking up 565 total yards and offense while also forcing four turnovers on defense. Head Coach Mike Leach has led the Cougars “Air Raid” offense to an average of 421 yards per game through the air, which is 2nd overall in the FBS. However, they are only averaging 80 yards per game on the ground (126th), which makes them an extremely one dimensional offense. As a whole, Washington State is 23rd overall in scoring after averaging 43.7 points per game through three games. QB Gardnew Minshew, a transfer from East Carolina, has already passed for 1,203 yards and eight touchdowns on the year. He has received a ton of help from WR Davontevean Martin, who leads the Cougars with 24 receptions, 290 receiving yards, and three touchdowns.
Washington State has also really excelled defensively, giving up an average of only 14.3 points per game which is 18th overall. That average should probably be even lower, as they gave up some garbage time points against Eastern Washington after the game was well in hand. After finishing the 2017-18 college season as a Top 10 defense nationwide, they certainly look primed to stay in elite company yet again this year.
In danger of starting 1-3, USC will look to right the ship on Friday night after a tough 37-14 loss at Texas last weekend. They have now lost two games in a row and desperately need to turn things around in a hurry. It is also imperative that they win this all important conference game, since they currently sit at 0-1 in Pac-12 play after losing 17-3 to Stanford back in Week 2. Although they are currently ranked inside of the top 50 in terms of passing offense, the rest of their play has been pretty abysmal. Their rushing attack is barely averaging 105 yards per game (117th) while their scoring offense is a brutal 114th overall (20 points per game). Freshman QB JT Daniels needs to start looking a bit more comfortable in the pocket soon, as he has already thrown three interceptions but just one TD pass through his first three games.
The Trojans have also struggled on defense, giving up an average of 25 points per game which leaves them in 74th overall in scoring defense. Although they did play well against a tough Stanford team, USC has given up a combined average of almost 30 points in their other two games this season.
NCAA Football Betting Predictions & Free Pick: Washington State +3.5
Despite playing at home this week, I’m not so sure that I agree with USC being favored in this spot. The Trojans have looked extremely underwhelming so far this year and are coming off a horrible loss to Texas last weekend. Their only victory came back in Week 1 and playing UNLV at home was hardly a tough test. USC was clearly outclassed by both Stanford and Texas, and this current Washington State team is certainly comparable to both of those programs. JT Daniels looks shaky and inexperienced – I find it tough to imagine him suddenly turning things around in Week 4 against a top 20 defense. Washington State has yet to lose this season and outside of an almost non-existent running game, really looks well rounded. Their passing offense should have another big showing on Friday night and I’m actually expecting the Cougars to win this one outright.
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Washington State is also 5-0 ATS over their past five games against teams with a losing record and an impressive 6-0 ATS in their last six games in September. On the other hand, USC has really struggled as of late, going 0-3-1 ATS in their last four conference games, 0-6 ATS over their last six games in September, and 0-4-1 ATS in their last five games on grass. The Cougars are also a perfect 3-0 ATS on the season, while the Trojans have let bettors down with an 0-3 record ATS thus far.
Washington State has to be extremely confident heading into this Pac-12 matchup. They are undefeated on the season, have an excellent defense, and have been able to score at will through the air in each of their first three games. Meanwhile, USC has looked sluggish and doesn’t seem to have an identity at all. They have had little to no success in the passing and rushing game, while their defense is mediocre at best. I’m taking the Cougars to win outright and improve to 4-0 on Friday – the extra 3.5 points are just a bonus.