USC Trojans vs. Arizona State Sun Devils Free Pick

by | Last updated Sep 23, 2023 | cfb

USC Trojans (3-0 SU, 2-1 ATS) vs. Arizona State Sun Devils (1-2 SU, 0-3 ATS)
College Football Week 4
Date and Time: Saturday, September 23, 2023 at 10:30PM EDT
Where: Mountain America Stadium, Tempe, Arizona
TV: Fox

Point Spread: USC -34/ASU +34 (Bovada)
Over/Under Total: 61.5

The USC Trojans make the trip to Tempe for a Pac-12 Conference face-off with the Arizona State Sun Devils on Saturday. Arizona State had a really tough time of it last week, dealing with injuries and falling to Fresno State 29-0. Southern Cal, meanwhile, was able to keep the juggernaut rolling and thrived in a big way in their conference debut, smashing Stanford 56-10. Can Arizona State provide some resistance as they kick off their own conference schedule this week? Or are we going to see more of the same from the high-powered Trojans?

Can the Sun Devils Emerge from Ruin?

It’s going to be difficult to truly quantify the desperation being felt within the ASU program going into week four. It started with a mere 3-point win over Southern Utah before getting smacked around by Oklahoma State and then coming up goose eggs against their Mountain West opponent last week. It was the first time they had been shut out at home in 35 years. Already down starting QB Jaden Rashada, they lost backup Trenton Bourguet, and his backup Drew Pyne, and by the end of the game, were working with fourth-stringer Jacob Conover, seeing their QBs combine for five picks, with eight turnovers overall. Rashada won’t be back until later in the season, and it’s a tough situation at QB and a massive task for first-year head coach Kenny Dillingham.

The timing of this is all pretty brutal, with an already slipping ASU squad now being thrown into conference play at its most elevated level with the Trojans coming to town. And the Sun Devils getting this at home is really almost the only identifiable nugget in their favor. They have some remaining talent on defense, and even this season, with the offense not holding up its end of the deal, they’ve been halfway-respectable. But this is really a different animal, with defending Heisman winner Caleb Williams leading a high-powered offense that is unlikely to see anything here that’s going to significantly throw them off-point. And any of that mid-to-late season apathy the Sun Devils might have gotten later in the season with a top-ranked team taking on a doormat isn’t likely to surface this early in the season.

Best Parlays

2 Team Parlay 3 Team Parlay 4 Team Parlay
sportsbetting 2.64 to 1 6 to 1 12.3 to 1
Bovada 2.64 to 1 5.95 to 1 12.3 to 1
Mybookie 2.64 to 1 5.95 to 1 12.3 to 1

Is the Storyline Too Convenient?

On one sideline, you have an Arizona State squad that is coming off a 3-win season where they fired a former NFL head coach after three games. They get a new head coach, and he’s already in a crisis-situation down multiple quarterbacks with a struggling team, just as the real big dogs on their schedule appear. Coming off a game where the injuries were surreal, where they were shut out by Fresno, it creates a jarring dichotomy. That’s especially true when on the other sideline is a fifth-ranked Trojans squad brimming with talent, starting at 3-0 while scoring 178 combined points and looking all the part of a contender, albeit before they’ve taken on any tough opposition.

Granted, it’s not going to be easy to get people to plunk down money on the Sun Devils in this spot without a tantalizing number. But you see this jumbo-sized point spread, and there’s really nothing in recent memory that ever showed Arizona State being this much of a sacrificial lamb to the Trojans. If anything, when looking at how these teams have played each other, we see some close games, an ASU win here and there, but certainly no rampant blowouts. We can sit here and carry on about the sorry state of the Sun Devils’ program until we’re blue in the face. We wouldn’t be inaccurate, as they are surely in the dumps. But it’s also a bit of a leap to figure they’re now on the level of a team that can’t come within 35 at home in a conference matchup.

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Harsh Football Realities for ASU this Week

If you go on the hunt for some silver lining for the Sun Devils this week, it’s not an easy find. But we do see a defense that, despite getting marginal help on the other side of the ball, is being somewhat-resolute. With guys like Prince Dorbah, they’re able to get a little pass-rush cooking. Do you look at a 29-0 shutout to Fresno, and once you get over how ugly that is, grant them a little credit for keeping what might be the cream of the Mountain West’s offense from doing much in the face of eight turnovers and a Three Stooges-like showing from their offense? Maybe so.

Vague defensive toughness aside, it won’t be easy curtailing a USC offense on a real roll. Caleb Williams has 12 TDs and no picks. Running backs MarShawn Lloyd, Quinten Joyner, and Austin Jones are averaging 8 yards a run, and the receiver crew is electric with Tahj Washington and Duce Robinson, among many others. They’re putting up basketball scores, and with an ASU offense that looks to be squarely in the dumps, that doesn’t bode well.

Take the Points

There would be a little shock if USC came out here and cleaned the Sun Devils’ clocks. It’s just that things get a little tougher in conference and on the road. USC still has a defense that lags behind what their offense can do, to the point where even a sideways ASU bunch can perhaps put up a couple of scores, which starts making that jumbo spread harder to reach for the Trojans, a number that might creep up before Saturday. I see the Sun Devils able to muster up just enough on both sides of the ball to sneak in there and cover the spread.

Loot’s Pick to Cover the Point Spread: I’m betting on the Arizona State Sun Devils plus 34 points.

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