The Thursday night (9:00pm ET) game of the week for week 6 of the 2012 college football season features a PAC-12 match up with the 12th ranked Trojans of Southern California (3-1) traveling to Rice-Eccles Stadium in Salt Lake City, UT to take on the Utah Utes (2-2) in prime time. Both teams are 1-3 ATS this season, with Utah 2-0 at home and USC 1-1 on the road. USC covered their last game, a 27-9 win over Cal as a 16.5 point favorite, but had closer than expected wins over woeful Syracuse and Hawaii squads in addition to their 21-14 loss at Stanford in week 3. Utah was blown out 37-7 at Arizona State in their last outing; their only cover was a 24-21 win over in-state rival BYU the previous week as a 3.5 point underdog.
The USC offense has not as of yet lived up to the hype that surrounded quarterback Matt Barkley (1,005 yards passing, 12 TDs, 5 INTs), receivers Robert Woods and Marquise Lee (457 yards receiving, 4TDs) running back, and Penn St. transfer Silas Redd (338 yards rushing) entering the season. The Trojans currently rank 45th in scoring offense with 33 point per game, and 52nd in total offense with 422 yards per game. The Trojan defense ranks 28th in scoring defense with 17.2 PPG allowed and 37th in total defense with 346.5 YPG allowed.
Utah utilizes a spread-offense that traditionally has been a strong unit, this season the Utes have not been up to par on offense ranking 97th in scoring offense with 23 PPG and 116th in total offense with 298.2 YPG. Quarterback Jon Hays (58.8% completion rate, 4 TDs, 1 INT) is in his second year as a starter, and has not shown the accuracy necessary to attack defenses consistently, and the running game (ranked 114th with 107.5 YPG) has not been even adequate this year. The Utes defense ranks a more than respectable 44th in scoring defense with 21.1 PPG allowed and 30th in total defense with 329.5 YPG allowed.
USC vs. Utah Spread, Line and Betting Odds:
USC Trojans -13.5
@ Utah Utes +13.5
Over 48 (-110)
Under 48 (-110)
Betting odds taken from Bovada.lv
USC vs. Utah Pick:
USC has a 5-1 record ATS in their 6 Pac-12 games, and a 9-4 record ATS in their last 13 road games. Utah is 3-7 ATS in their last 10 home games, 3-7 in their last 10 games against winning teams and 5-12 ATS in their last 17 conference games. The under is 4-1 in USC’s last 5 games overall and 4-1 in their last 5 Pac 12 games. The under is 6-2 in Utah’s last 8 home games and 7-3 in their last 10 games against winning teams. The two teams met last season for the first time in 10 years, and USC came away with a 23-14 win at home to cover a 7.5 point line.
These two teams have both played well on the defensive side of the ball this season, and they have both underwhelmed offensively this season. USC clearly has the edge in terms of athleticism and play makers, and the Trojans should win the game outright. The spread is a bit too high for my liking on the road with USC having been so inconsistent this season. If Barkley and company are going to break out though, this would be the time to do it. Utah will have trouble mustering up much of an attack offensively at all; the Utes as they showed at ASU last time out do not have the offensive firepower to be competitive in the Pac-12 this season. This should be a one-sided game, but a tough Utah defense should keep the scoring down some.
PICK = Under 48