USC Trojans (6-3 SU, 5-4 ATS) vs. Washington Huskies (9-0 SU, 5-4 ATS)
CFB Week 11
Date/Time: Saturday, November 12, 2016 at 7:30PM EST
Where: Husky Stadium, Seattle, Washington
by Scott, Expert Football Handicapper, Predictem.com
Point Spread: USC +9/WASH -9
Over/Under Total: 63
The USC Trojans come to Seattle on Saturday to face the Washington Huskies in a big Pac-12 battle that could have national ramifications. Washington is 9-0 and looking really good after a 66-27 slaughter of Cal on Saturday. But in USC, they are facing a peaking team that is coming into form in a big way with five straight wins. In that span, the Southern Cal offense is putting up huge numbers. Their 1-3 start to the season is almost a memory now, as they look to be a handful heading into Husky Stadium. After seeing Washington escape some close calls this season, maybe USC is up to the task, which is a big one on the road this week.
After a bit of a slow midseason stretch, the gargantuan win over Cal was needed by the Huskies last week, as they got back to dominating. They hadnít covered a ton of spreads over the past 6-7 weeks and the Cal win was a good sign, featuring a high-flying offense that can get you in any number of different ways, in addition to a defense that was able to keep the powerful Cal offense from getting too frisky. By the midway point of the first quarter, the game was already getting out of hand for Cal. Washington is 9-0 and on the cusp of big things. Of their remaining hurdles, this Southern Cal bunch stands out as perhaps the most dangerous.
Huskiesí quarterback Jake Browning was electric on Saturday against the Golden Bears, as he threw for 6 touchdowns for the second time this season. He has 34 on the season. On Saturday, John Ross and Dante Pettis each caught three TD passes. Pettis was even able to hit Darrell Daniels with a TD pass. Myles Gaskin added a TD run, while Lavon Coleman also found the end zone. Their offense is well-balanced with multiple weapons in the run and the pass. Some might be surprised to know that Washington is the second-highest scoring team in the nation at 48.3 points per game.
The Washington defense is also a group that boasts of solid balance. With the offense being as explosive as it is, this group doesnít need to be great, but they have been good in keeping some high-flying Pac-12 offenses in check for the most part. The six conference teams they have played have all been held under control. Itís a defense that can make things happen. Theyíve gotten a lot of turnovers and when critical situations arise, they have been able to make an impact more often than not. They are hardly invulnerable, but they make clutch plays and make good contributions to the overall team effort.
Earlier in the season, we saw a flat USC team that was struggling on both sides of the ball, with Max Browne unable to find the top gear with this offense. Redshirt freshman Sam Darnold has managed to get the most out of this offense, as both the aerial and running game has been in top-form. Their slow start on the season may have led to some people writing them off, but the team we see now is a completely different entity. And for a team to rise from the ashes suggests a certain level of team-character that you canít discount. But facing the class of the conference in a hostile road environment can make things look a little different.
The last five games have seen Darnold in top shape, throwing 18 touchdowns against only three interceptions. He has scored two touchdowns with his feet. Beyond his stats, he has been a positive presence, as he has that certain winning vibe that you like to see in top young quarterbacks. He can do a little bit of everything and his presence under center has really seemed to transform this team.
In addition to Darnold, Justin Davis has also helped massively in getting this team on the right track with some serious running performances in recent weeks. On Saturday, he ran for 171 yards and four touchdowns, which followed a 223-yard performance the previous week. Deontay Burnett is becoming a nice red-zone target for Darnold and he caught another TD on Saturday. With receivers like JuJu Smith-Schuster and Darreus Rogers also catching passes, the USC aerial game is looking really good. Can they make that explosiveness translate in this spot?
Like Washington, the Trojans have been holding Pac-12 offenses down. In their last five Pac-12 games, they have given up 95 points, which is just 19 points a game, not too shabby in this conference. The offenseís proliferation has certainly helped. What we are starting to see in week ten in a well-rounded Trojans bunch that can give any team trouble.
At 9-0, Washington can start to hone in on some potentially program-changing glory this season. But slip-ups could have them on the outside looking in with a top-heavy group of teams at the head of the list. This is a major event in Seattle for a Huskies throng that has longed for games of this magnitude for years on end. I expect a classy effort from Washington, who should be at a state of heightened urgency. But USC is at least as good at this point as the teams that have managed to give Washington a test. I see the Trojans covering the spread.
Scott's Pick to Cover the Point Spread: Iím betting on the USC Trojans plus 9 points.
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