We move into the late stages of October, and the ninth week of college football action. It will all be over before you know it, so savor it while it lasts, because you will be missing football shortly. I’m pretty excited about the start of college basketball, though, which will be here rather soon. There is still a lot of football to be played and a lot to be decided, however. Last week we saw the fall of Ohio State, an upset loss at Penn State on Saturday night. For now, the Buckeyes are removed from the playoff picture, but they could jump right back in it by beating Michigan later in the season and winning the conference championship in the BIG 10. Ohio State survived against Wisconsin before the Penn State loss, so the bubble burst for them and they couldn’t hang on. That near loss to Wisconsin is not going to help their situation much either, which will be taken into consideration.
Tonight we go to the Pac-12, where the California Golden Bears will tangle with the USC Trojans. A lot of talent has come through both of these programs, from Reggie Bush, Troy Polamalu, Aaron Rodgers, and Marshawn Lynch. Neither Cal nor USC are at that level now, and they aren’t producing the same kind of talent. Well, maybe Jared Goff’s career turns out positively, but he seemed lost in the preseason and hasn’t played a snap in the regular season. The Cal offense is without Goff this season, who was a terrific quarterback in this offense, but this is a plug-and-play show in California.
What I mean by plug-and-play is this is an offense that can insert another decent quarterback and get solid results. Some people call it a system offense, and I suppose it’s what you can call this current California team. Aaron Rodgers played in a traditional pro offense, this era of Cal football is shotgun get the ball out quickly and run as many plays as possible. Defense is more of an afterthought for the Golden Bears, and their defense is why the Trojans are a massive -16.5 favorite in this spot. Both teams are 4-3, so you don’t typically see a spread that big for teams that have the same record and in the same conference. California plays no defense, USC plays some defense, that pretty much sets the stage for this matchup.
California Golden Bears vs. USC Trojans NCAAF Betting Odds:
vs. USC -16.5(-105)
Odds provided by Bovada.lv
California vs. USC Pick:
California has been relying on Texas Tech transfer Davis Webb. Cal is a perfect fit for Webb who comes from a similar up-tempo offense with the Red Raiders. It has worked out for everybody, because I’m fairly certain Webb would be sitting on the bench watch Pat Mahomes terrorize defenses at Texas Tech right now. He would get to watch an equally terrible defense in Texas too, so he isn’t missing much in that respect. Webb has been lighting defenses up as well, throwing for 27 touchdowns with 7 interceptions. He’s also thrown for 2,581 yards. The Cal offense ranks 9th out of 127 teams in the FBS, with 43.7 points scored per game. They are also 6th in the country with 370.3 passing yards a game.
Cal is running into the strength of USC, though. The Trojans are allowing just 206.3 yards per game through the air. Arizona was held to just 142 yards passing last week. On the flip side though, the Wildcats are a run first team and have been without their starting quarterback this season. Also, USC hasn’t played against an offense like California thus far. If the Cal defense is going to sit back and play like they usually do, it really won’t matter how well Webb and the offense play tonight.
The Golden Bears are 121st in yards allowed per game, which is 488 allowed a game. Texas Tech is giving up 533 after getting trounced by Oklahoma last week, to put things in perspective. USC will have no issues moving the ball at the Coliseum tonight. California is allowing 41.3 points per game. This will be the thinnest defense USC has played this season. I expect them to hit somewhere in the mid to high 40’s range.
The Trojans are giving up 24 per game, against an offense scoring over 40 points a game. Cal will score too, but not enough to keep up with USC. This spread is a tough one to call. USC could play well and still not cover this number. If the Trojans are up late and are playing prevent defense, Cal will pick up garbage points easily with their offense. I’m not going to concern myself with the spread and take the OVER instead.
PICK: OVER 75.5 POINTS (-110)