It may come as a surprise to some to see USC favored by -4.5 points in the September 21st NCAAF Pac 12 free pick. After all this is a team that, the last time we saw them, was getting throttled 14-37 by Texas last Saturday. On the other hand, the Trojans opponent tonight Washington State is 3-0 and have scored a combined 90 points in the past two weeks. This is undoubtedly the toughest test of the season so far for the Cougars, but can they repeat last year’s 30-27 win over USC?
— AP Top 25 (@AP_Top25) September 19, 2018
Washington State Brings Their High Powered Passing Attack to the Coliseum
You have to take the numbers with a little bit of grain of salt considering WSU has been favored by a combined 50 points the past two weeks, but so far their passing game has been outstanding. QB Gardner Minshew has thrown for 1203 yards which is so far 3rd in the country. Minshew has 8TD to 3 INT and has posted 400+ yard passing games the last two weeks. Once again, those games were a 59-24 win over Eastern Washington and a 31-0 drubbing of San Jose State but the overall numbers are still impressive. SC is most vulnerable against the run where they rank 109th in the country, but Washington State’s running game is virtually nonexistent (80 ypg). It will be interesting to see how that matchup plays out.
When handicapping the September 21st NCAAF Pac 12 free pick you have to evaluate each team’s schedule so far, but the fact that the Cougars have built a top 5 defense through 3 games cannot be simply brushed off. Were they 20+ point favorites the last two weeks? Yes. Has WSU still held their last 2 opponents to less than 500 combined yards? Also yes. The Cougars also held Wyoming to 206 total yards to start the defense so their defense is definitely building momentum. The Cougars held Sam Darnold to 164 yards passing in last year’s 30-27 WSU win so what do they have in store for freshman JT Daniels tonight?
Does USC Continue to Falter Tonight?
The Trojans defense faces a huge challenge in the September 21st NCAAF Pac 12 free pick against the potent Washington State offense. Despite losing two games in a row, the Trojans defense hasn’t been absolutely horrible. Yes Texas ran for 160 yards last week, but it took them 48 carries to do so (3.3 ypc). Both Texas and Stanford the week before threw the ball 27+ times, but they combined to average just 208.5 passing yards. In last year’s meeting WSU’s Luke Falk threw for 340 yards, so maybe coach Mike Leach at the very least knows how to attack this SC defense.
The O/U in tonight’s contest is 50.5 but can USC’s young offense survive a shootout? The team has scored just 17 total points the last two weeks but maybe what they need is getting back home to the Coliseum. JT Daniels was 30/48 for 322 yards last week but the freshman also threw his 3rd straight INT compared to 0 TD passes. Coach Clay Helton is putting a lot on the youngster’s shoulders considering SC has no run game. Literally no run game last week as they ran 16 times for -5 yards. Lack of competition or not, Washington State is allowing less than 100 ypg on the ground this year so expect another heavy dose of Daniels, Amon-Ra St. Brown and the USC air attack tonight.
September 21st NCAAF Pac 12 Free Pick Betting
The line of USC -4.5 seems a bit fishy but 55% of the public are failing to take the bait as they are backing Washington State on the road. The Cougars lack of a quality opponent so far is really the only question that WSU backers have to answer. Coming off last year’s win and the fact that Mike Leach demonstrated the ability to a) exploit the USC pass defense and b) shut down Sam Darnold and the Trojan offense you have to like the Cougars again in ’18.
Pac 12 Free Pick : Washington State Cougars +4.5