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Hawaii Warriors vs. USC Trojans Point Spread - Pick

Hawaii Warriors (0-0 SU, 0-0 ATS) vs. No. 3 USC Trojans (0-0 SU, 0-0 ATS)
College Football Week 1
Date/Time: Saturday, September 1st, 7:30 p.m. EST
Where: Memorial Coliseum, Los Angeles, Calif.
TV: FOX
by Badger, Football Handicapper, Predictem.com

Point Spread: Haw +38/USC -38
Over/Under Total: OFF

With the cloud of probation finally cleared and their post-season bowl ban lifted the No. 3 University of Southern California Trojans will kickoff what many are expecting to be a national-title contending season Saturday night when they host the Hawaii Warriors at L.A.’s Memorial Coliseum in the season opener.

The Trojans instantly became title worthy back in January when quarterback Matt Barkley announced his intent to return for his senior season at USC following a junior campaign where he threw for over 3,500 yards and 39 touchdowns. Considered by many as the leading candidate for the Heisman Trophy, Barkley’s return to last year’s 10-2 team gives the Trojans one of the country’s most explosive offenses along with running backs Curtis McNeal and Penn State-transfer Silas Redd, four-fifths of the starting offensive line and a deep receiver crew led by Robert Woods and Marqise Lee.

If the Trojans offense isn’t enough to cause opponent’s a few sleepless nights, seven returning starters on defense including speedy LBs Dion Bailey and Hayes Pullard and All-American safety T.J. McDonald should cause their own problems when Barkley and Co. are sitting on the bench.

Hawaii is starting a new era of their own in 2012, with longtime and noted assistant coach Norm Chow getting his first head coaching gig with the Warriors. Chow, who was born in Honolulu and spent last season as the offensive coordinator at Utah, will inherit a Warriors team that finished 4-8 in 2011 and returns seven starters on offense.

Chow’s noted for his ability to develop quarterbacks, and his success at Hawaii will be dependent on that skill since Bryan Moniz has graduated. Junior David Graves will get the starting quarterback job to start, but I’m almost certain the rest of the Warriors offense will struggle to adapt to Chow’s pro-style offense after playing in the spread offense for the last decade.

With Hawaii in full transition mode and USC loaded to the hilt, it is no surprise that oddsmakers have opened this game with USC as huge 38-point favorites at home in the Coliseum. While the game is still nearly three weeks away, I have to think the five touchdown-plus number bettors would have to lay is resulting in little to no action at the betting window. Either way, the point spread has yet to move in either direction.

With only a large ocean in between these two schools, the Trojans and Warriors have met many times in the last decade, including in 2010 when the Trojans traveled to Honolulu and won 49-36. Barkley threw for 257 yards and five touchdowns in the win, but the Warriors covered the 20-point spread the Trojans were stacked to in the game.

USC has actually owned Hawaii in their short history, going 4-0 SU and 3-1 ATS while averaging 59 points on offense and an average winning margin of 25 points.

Hawaii hasn’t exactly inspired confidence for bettors at the window either, going 1-7 ATS in their last eight non-conference games. While Hawaii tends to play over the total when out of the MWC (over is 4-1 in L5 non-conf.), the opposite is true for USC (under is 5-1 in L6 non-conf.), so choose wisely.

Badger's Pick to Cover the Point Spread: If forced at gunpoint to pick a side in this game, then I’d take the Trojans to roll big. However, as a practice I don’t wager on games where the line is over five scores or higher. If you’re not scared away by the huge number, then by all means take USC minus the 38-points.

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