Texas Longhorns (1-1 SU, 1-1 ATS) vs. USC Trojans (2-0 SU, 1-1 ATS)
College Football Week 3
Date/Time: Saturday, September 16, 2017 at 8:30PM EST
Where: Los Angeles Coliseum, Los Angeles, California
by Scott, NCAA Football Handicapper, Predictem.com
Point Spread: TEX +15/USC -15
Over/Under Total: 67
The Texas Longhorns come to the L.A. Coliseum on Saturday for a big week three matchup against the USC Trojans. This is a big game for Texas and a chance for them to atone for their disastrous week one loss to Maryland, 51-41. They got some measure of redemption with a lopsided win and cover over San Jose State on Saturday, 56-0. Things get a little tougher this week against a USC team that shined with a week two win over a good Stanford team, 42-24. USC has big plans for the season and has now won 11 in a row going back to last season.
This season brought some measure of hope with first-year Texas head coach Tom Herman, who did such good things with Houston. Week one didnt go as planned. But no one thought Texas was going to go unbeaten, so people should exercise caution before they shovel dirt on a Texas team that has been an underachieving team for several seasons running. But after watching their defense get torched in week one, a shutout win on Saturday restores some confidence, even if it did come against an outmanned road San Jose squad.
The Texas offense got a boost on Saturday with the play of freshman quarterback Sam Ehlinger. Making his first start for the injured Shane Buechele (questionable), he gave the offense a nice spark with his energy and legs. He threw for 222 yards and a TD, while running for 48 yards. Its unknown if his performance is enough to create any kind of QB controversy, but Ehlingers presence was felt in his first start. Also delivering was RB Chris Warren, who galloped for 166 yards and two touchdowns on Saturday. It was a banner day for the entire backfield, with over 400 yards rushing. Also scoring on the ground was Kyle Porter, Toneil Carter, and Jerrod Heard, who also took some snaps at quarterback. Though the run-game ruled the day for the Longhorns on Saturday, pass-catchers like Armanti Foreman (questionable), Reggie Hemphill-Mapps, and big-body receiver Collin Johnson were also productive.
Again, a shutout is a positive development for a Longhorns defense that really needed one after getting manhandled at battered by Maryland. At least theyre making plays, having seen the defense return interceptions for touchdowns in each of their first two games. They didnt stop the run in week one, though they were able to hold San Jose St. to very little in week two. Poona Ford is rugged up-front, with Charles Onehinu providing some pass-rush. The middle has some difference-makers in Naashon Hughes and Malik Jefferson. Free safety Brandon Jones can make a lot of plays, while corners PJ Locke and Kris Boys could come around. Maybe week one was just part of the growing pains of a talented, but young group. Well know more with time, but make no mistake, this defense will be tested in a big way in L.A. this week.
USC quarterback Sam Darnold can really get a lot out of this offense. He rarely takes sacks and has the legs and awareness to extend plays in the event that the pocket collapses. The only troubling development is that going back to last season and with the first few games of 2017, he has been throwing a lot of picks. He already has 4 this season. Still, the Southern Cal offense looks potent. The run game has gotten a big boost from talented true freshman Stephen Carr. He ran for two scores in game one, before running for 119 yards against Stanford. Ronald Jones, II. also has 275 yards through two games. A two-headed monster is beginning to develop with the Southern Cal ground-game.
In addition to a potent run game, Darnold has been making good headway with the aerial game, giving the Trojans an all-around offense. He threw for 316 yards and 4 touchdowns on Saturday. There is room for a lot of different people to shine in this offense. Through two games, wide receiver Deontay Burnett has shined and had 121 yards and two scores on Saturday against Stanford. Steven Mitchell, Jr. also had two touchdowns last week. While the USC offense struggled early in week one, we have since seen them looking a lot like the bunch from last season when USC finished the season looking as good as any team in the nation.
In two games, the USC defense hasnt looked all that great against the run. But to beat WMU and Stanford both by 18 is what counts at the end of the day. Still, to give up 263 yards to WMU on the ground and 160 yards to Bryce Love is cause for concern as they prepare to face a Texas team that looks good so far on the ground. Marlon Tuipuloto, Rasheem Greene, and Kenny Bigelow are on a line that lacks a consistent run-stopping component. Cameron Smith, Ucheena Nwoso, and Porter Gustin help anchor a linebacking unit that is tough. And other than Adoree Jackson, the secondary remain intact. Guys like Marvell Tell, III., Iman Marshall, and Chris Hawkins make up a group that should be a team asset. Even with Stanfords Bryce Love having a big day, the defense still kept the Cardinal at arms length. They just need to give the offense enough room with which to work and win.
It seemed like the loss to Maryland may have awoken the sleepiness in Texas, as they looked shot out of a cannon last week, albeit against a down San Jose squad. But facing one of the top teams in the country in a road game in LA is not something that would seem to be up the Longhorns alley. The last time we saw this matchup, it was for all the marbles, with the Longhorns winning the Rose Bowl with Vince Young back in 2006. But the casting here is different with the Trojans on an 11-game win streak, while Texas is just trying to get back on the right track. We see a conclusive Southern Cal pounding on Saturday.
Scott’s Pick to Cover the Point Spread: Im betting on the USC Trojans minus 15 points. Bet your pick for this game using your credit card at an online bookie where it WILL work for deposits and where you’ll receive a generous 100% signup bonus on your first deposit of $100 to $250! (Example: Deposit $250 and they’ll give you an extra $250 FREE!) Find this great offer at Bovada Sportsbook.