USC Trojans vs. Arizona State Sun Devils Preview and Pick

#12 Southern California Trojans (8-2) -3.5, 49 O/U at #6 Arizona
State Sun Devils (9-1) +3.5, 49 O/U Sun Devil Stadium, 8 PM Eastern,

by Badger of

Pacific 10 Conference powerhouse Southern California will be looking
to knock the Arizona State Sun Devils out of the drivers seat for
the conference title when the two teams hook up Thanksgiving night on

Not only would a win by Arizona State (9-1, 6-1 PAC 10) clinch them
at least a tie for the conference title, but it would also put them
into the Rose Bowl and keep them in a position for an outside chance
at the BCS Championship game.

USC (8-2, 5-2) finds themselves in the unaccustomed role of the
spoiler this year, after spending the past five years as the king of
the PAC 10. Even with two losses the Trojans do have an outside
chance at reaching the Rose Bowl and winning the PAC 10 title, but
they will have to win their remaining two games and hope for an
Oregon loss.

Both teams are coming off of a bye week, having played their last
games on November 10th. Arizona State is coming off of a 24-20
victory over UCLA, while the Trojans beat California 24-17 in their
last contest.

Oddsmakers opened the game with the Trojans as a 3-point favorite,
with a total of 49 points.

Offensively the Sun Devils should pose a good test for USC. They are
ranked 34th overall in the NCAA with an average of 426.5 yards per
game. Quarterback Rudy Carpenter spreads the ball around well and
leads the Sun Devils to 34.2 points per game (27th), but he has been
playing with a sore thumb on his throwing hand, which has limited his
effectiveness in recent weeks.

Its no secret that the Trojans mid-season decline directly coincided
with a broken finger suffered by starting QB John David Booty. Booty
is back now, but the offense is more balance thanks in part to the
extra workload running back Chauncey Washington took on in his
absence. USC scores 30.7 points per game (43rd) and has a good mix of
run (186.7 ypg) and pass (221 ypg).

It is the Trojans defense that has kept their PAC 10 title hopes
alive, ranking 3rd in the country in total yards allowed (267.8), 5th
versus the pass (175.7 ypg) and 6th in points allowed with just a
meager 16 points per game.

Arizona State also sports a top-20 defense, allowing just 318.9 yards
per game and just 18 points per game (14th overall). The Sun Devils
are susceptible against the pass however, giving up 213.4 yards per

USC has won the past seven games versus the Sun Devils straight up,
covering the number in five of those seven games. USC is only 2-4
against Arizona State when the Sun Devils have been ranked though.
Betting on the total has been like kissing your sister, as they have
gone over three times, gone under three times, and have pushed on the
total once.

Other betting trends to note:

Arizona State is 2-2 ATS in the past four games, but is 5-1 at home
versus the number. They have fallen under the total in three
straight, and five of the last six.

USC has covered in three of their last four games after failing to
cover three straight weeks in September and early October. The strong
Trojan defense has made the under bet hit in eight straight games,
nine of their last 10, and 17 of their last 22 games in the past few

The line opened at USC -3, and most sportsbooks have moved it to-3.5, so the early
betting action has been on USC. The total hasn’t moved from 49.

Badgers Pick: This game will be a major test for the Sun Devils in
prime-time on Thanksgiving night. Are they for real, or are they the
team that finished last year at 7-6? While they have been a
remarkable story under first-year coach Dennis Erickson, I think USC
is healthy again and has gotten their swagger back. Take USC minus
the points.