Arizona Wildcats (5-4 SU, 4-5 ATS) vs. USC Trojans (5-3 SU, 5-3 ATS)
College Football Week 10
Date/Time: Saturday, November 7, 2015 at 10:30PM EST
Where: Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum, Los Angeles, California
by Scott, NCAA Football Handicapper, Predictem.com
Point Spread: ARI +17.5/USC -17.5
Over/Under Total: Off
The Arizona Wildcats come out to the City of Angels to face the USC Trojans on Saturday at the L.A. Coliseum. Its been an up-and-down season for both teams in what has been a topsy-turvy season in the Pac-12. USC has managed to shake off a rough patch to win two straight games, including a nice 27-21 win over Cal in their last game. Arizona, however, will need to rebound from their worst setback of the season, a demoralizing 49-3 loss to Washington.
Arizona had high hopes this season, but those were dashed as they hit conference play, suffering resounding defeats to Stanford and UCLA. They got well with wins over Oregon State and Colorado, but ran into trouble as they started facing the better teams in the conference. First, Washington State beat them at home, 45-42, before the embarrassment at the hands of Washington last week. Following that, they face another road game and you have to wonder if perhaps their spirit is waning.
Southern Cal has seen some bumpy passages as well this season. The one-time 6th-ranked team in the country lost three of four games after a 2-0 start, with losses to Stanford, Washington, and Notre Dame. But they showed some fight in the past two weeks with a pair of wins. First came a win over the third-ranked team in the nation in Utah, 42-24. They followed that up with a win over a team that had been ranked in Cal. Better late than never. USC doesnt look half-bad. They hit their stride and look to further resurrect their season with a nice win this week.
After a rough patch, Trojans QB Cody Kessler has been playing well and looks to continue doing so against a dicey Arizona D this Saturday. He is completing over 70% of his throws and has 18 touchdowns with just 5 picks. As we have been reminded over the past few weeks, he is a heck of a quarterback and he has ample weaponry with which to work. Running backs Ronald Jones, II., Tre Madden, and Justin Davis have been productive, combining for 13 touchdowns. Through the air, JuJu Smith-Schuster is one of the best in the conference, bolstered by the presence of Adoree Jackson and a slew of others who chip in with production. Theyre going to need to step up with Schuster-Smith out indefinitely with a hand injury. Thats going to be a painful loss. They average over 37 points a game, so there are other weapons available, but well see how they do without their best contributor on offense..
The USC defense has also seen its share of ups and downs this season. Against some of the more-complete offenses theyve faced, a lot of points were given up, as they allowed 41 points to both Stanford and Notre Dame. But other than that, theyve been pretty respectable, not allowing more than 24 points. Look for the D to be tested more in this game against an Arizona team that can still put up points in bunches.
Arizona quarterback Anu Solomon threw his first two interceptions of his season against Washington and hes on the heels of two straight bad games. The Wildcats offense has relied more on a run-heavy approach this season. Nick Wilson (questionable) had 702 yards, Jerrard Russell has 685 yards, and Jared Baker has 559 yards, helping Arizona become the 11th best rushing team in the country. And theyre putting up a respectable 37.4 points per game. What Arizona needs now is to bounce back from an awful loss and the realization that theyre in a bit of trouble at 5-4.
The Arizona defense is struggling, as the 94 points theyve given up in the past two games will attest. And in another back-to-back spell against Stanford and UCLA earlier this season, they gave up 111 points in consecutive weeks. Its safe to say that against the more versatile and explosive offenses in the Pac-12, that the Arizona defense is not up-to-snuff. Their secondary has been horrific is spots, giving up huge performances to opposing quarterbacks. And their performance against the run hasnt been much better.
Right now, the Arizona defense is a major roadblock to success. The Arizona offense is good, but in the context of a competitive game, not when playing from behind, necessarily. Both sides of the ball need to get this figured out and this is a tough spot for that to happenon the heels of a massive loss and again on the road this week against a team that has a lot of talent.
On one hand, USC appears to be in better form. Theyre at home and look to have at least partially righted their ship, whereas Arizona appears lost at sea. On the other hand, this conference has been utterly unpredictable, with things like recent form having less bearing than you would think. As soon as you think you have things figured out, you know youre in trouble because not much has made sense this season. A thorough USC beating in this spot does not seem to be that far of a reach, although almost too easy of a conclusion in a conference landscape that has been highly-erratic. I see something less than an outright runaway win for the Trojans. Ill take the points.
Scott’s Pick to Cover the Point Spread: Im betting on the Arizona Wildcats plus 17.5 points.
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