Stanford Cardinal vs. USC Trojans Odds & Prediction 9/11/21

by | Sep 6, 2021 | cfb

Stanford Cardinal (0-1 SU, 0-1 ATS) vs. USC Trojans (1-0 SU, 1-0 ATS)

College Football Week 2

Date and Time: Saturday, September 11, 2021 at 10:30PM EDT

Where: Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum, Los Angeles, California

TV: Fox

Point Spread: STAN +17.5/USC -17.5 (Betanysports - Home of -105 reduced odds wagering!)

Over/Under Total: 51

The Stanford Cardinal come to the LA Coliseum on Saturday for a Pac-12 showdown with the USC Trojans. After one game out of conference, each team kicks off their conference schedule this week. Stanford is looking to make something positive happen after a flat showing in week one where they lost to Kansas State, 24-7, not hitting the scoreboard until late in the game. They take on a Southern Cal bunch that looked good in their opener with a fairly routine 30-7 win over a good San Jose State team. Who can notch the cover at the Coliseum on Saturday?

What to Make of Stanford

After finishing their season with four straight wins, some identified Stanford as a team that could make some noise. But with the exodus of some major talent, the retool might present more challenges than previously known. Kansas State is a good team. How good being something that will be determined this season, but to go almost the whole game without putting up a single point makes for some troubling optics. And in a weird scheduling snafu, this road spot at the Coliseum will be their sixth straight road game dating back to last season.

One-game windows, particularly at the start of the season, can be misleading. That’s especially true when a Pac-12 team trying to find its bearings has to play a Big 12 team on the road in their opener. But that doesn’t mean those signs shouldn’t be observed, especially how Stanford managed to put up just 233 yards of total offense, scoring for the only time with just a few minutes left. And this against a team that allowed 36 or more points six times last season.

Defensive scrappiness aside, in the Coliseum, these boys are going to need some points. The quarterback situation, where they’re platooning Tanner McKee and Jack West at quarterback, didn’t look on-point in week one. The run game with Austin Jones, EJ Smith, and Nathaniel Peat was unimpactful. The O-line made no push. Again, it was a tricky road spot for a team struggling to form a concrete cast of contributors, but the preliminary signs aren’t very good.

Looking for the Trojans to Pounce

This is a big year for the Trojans and head coach Todd Helton, who is perceived as being on the hot-seat. After QB Kedon Slovis flashed his potential last season, they expect to flex considerable offensive juice this season. Slovis had a tidy 24-for-36 showing against San Jose, with a pair of TD throws. With productive Texas transfer Keaontay Ingram and experienced Vevae Malepeai, the run-game is in good hands. We’re seeing WR Drake London coming into his own, and with 12 catches on Saturday, the 6’5″ junior looks to be the main dog in this offense. He is joined by several other aerial threats and a beefy line that can make whatever this offense does stick.

The Trojans’ defense did allow over 300 yards to San Jose QB Nick Starkel on Saturday, but big plays, timely tightness, and some San Jose miscues made it, so they only put up one score the whole day. Senior safety Greg Johnson took an interception to the end zone. After leading just 13-7 at the half, the defense really tightened over the second half of the game, looking almost impenetrable at times. This is a daunting proposition for potential Stanford backers who saw their team’s offense struggled so mightily in week one.

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Silver Lining for Stanford

With a team like Stanford, first impressions can be shaky with a team that usually finds some kind of answers within conference play. Time and again, out-of-conference results indicate Stanford will struggle against the better conference teams they play like USC. Then we see them overperform, showing how they tend to whip it into shape for games like this. It’s very possible that they’re not as bad as they looked last week. Maybe more in their wheelhouse, albeit on the road, they can get into somewhat of an offensive groove while relying on a defense that showed a fair amount of pluck against Kansas State. The “D” was actually pretty scrappy while getting almost zero support from the other side of the ball. We saw San Jose holding USC to a 13-7 halftime score. Maybe a Pac-12 “D” can do one better.

Overcoming Tough Conditions

USC is considered the better team and is more coddled early in the season, to boot. They get their second game to start the season at the Coliseum, fed a Mountain West opponent in their opener, as they ease into the meat of their schedule. Meanwhile, Stanford is more distressed, already having sponged a loss after a road game in Kansas. Now it’s off to another road game against one of the better teams in the conference. And all the while, it’s a Stanford team looking for answers and to more clearly spell out roles. While USC is who they are, they know who they are and who they have. It makes for a task for Stanford that looks to be a tall order.

Take the Points

Granted, week one was not promising for Stanford, while USC looks to be right on track. That’s an understandable element of concern for those entertaining a stance on the Cardinal. In this conference, however, parity has a way of rearing its head even when you don’t suspect that it will. Handicapping this conference like it’s any other conference often leaves bettors grasping for answers. And while a USC hammering is definitely on the table, there are other elements at play. And between USC playing down to their opponent’s level, Stanford’s still-ample defensive scrappiness, and just the topsy-turvy nature of this conference, I think one can justify a stance on the Cardinal with the points. I’ll take Stanford.

Loot’s Pick to Cover the Point Spread:

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