USC Trojans (8-2 SU, 3-7 ATS) vs. Colorado Buffaloes (5-5 SU, 3-7 ATS)
College Football Week 11
Date/Time: Saturday, November 11, 2017 at 4PM EST
Where: Folsom Field, Boulder, Colorado
by Scott, NCAA Football Handicapper, Predictem.com
Point Spread: USC -13.5/COLO +13.5
Over/Under Total: 60.5
In Pac-12 action, the USC Trojans come to Boulder to face the Colorado Buffaloes on Saturday. USC has righted their ship to some extent, coming off a rough patch to win two straight, including a nice 49-35 win over a high-flying Arizona bunch on Saturday. Their offense looks to have finally clicked into gear and they still are the only team in the South Division of the Pac-12 with just one loss and they keep winning, they can still do big things this season. Its still a tricky road spot, even against a so-so Colorado team in Boulder. Despite a 2-5 conference mark, the Buffaloes have been scrappy in spots and coming off a 41-30 loss on the road to ASU, they look forward to returning home this week.
Colorado is just 5-5, but theyve been plucky at home. In the last two games at Boulder, they beat Cal and lost narrowly to a good Arizona team. Four of their last 6 have been on the road and its been a brutal stretch for Colorado. The Buffaloes can still get things done on offense, but they lost a lot on the other side of the ball and in this conference, that part of their team has been a major liability. And it was on Saturday, as they blew a second-half ten-point lead on ASU. They look for a win this week that would give them a big boost, with bowl-eligibility slipping from their grasp. And for what its worth, the Buffaloes were game against the Trojans last season in a 21-17 loss in LA. Obviously, a lot has changed since that matchup.
On Saturday, the offense had some good moments, with some mistakes also proving to be costly. After a ragged patch of games, Colorado QB Steven Montez was effective with 345 yards passing, but it could have been so much more with receivers dropping balls all day long. Top Buffaloes receiver Shay Fields had 128 yards and a TD, though he dropped an easy one on a trick play that would have been big and could have changed the game. Phillip Lindsay has been a workhorse for this offense this season and ran for two touchdowns against Arizona State.
The Colorado defense has had minimal highlights this season. Evan Worthington has three picks, but other than that, the playmaking has been fairly minimal. They dont really get after the quarterback and the pluck they showed on this side of the ball last season has not been terribly evident this season. Against the pass, they havent been very good. But theyve been even worse against the run and against the ASU cabaret of backs, they gave up 381 yards on the ground on Saturday. With USC able to do damage on the ground, how will that resonate this week?
USC has snapped out of a funk, beating both Arizonas in consecutive weeks to put themselves back in the thick of things in the Pac-12. Injuries have hurt them on both sides of the ball and contributed to losses against Washington State and a bad loss to Notre Dame three weeks ago. But the last two weeks have seen the offense spring to life with 97 combined points in their last two games. Just when it looked like the season might get sideways after the 35-point loss to Notre Dame, they beat two good conference teams consecutively and look to do the same in this road spot.
Sam Darnold has been good lately, getting the aerial game rolling, while also running this offense smoothly. But the run-game has been big in getting this offense on the right track. There are good signs on that front, with Ronald Jones, II. having put up a combined 410 rushing yards and five touchdowns in his last two games. AcaCedric Ware was over 100 yards on Saturday with a TD also and getting true freshman playmaker Stephen Carr after missing time against Arizona State was also a promising sign for this offense. Granted, the Arizona run-defense is pretty leaky, but they are running the ball better lately overall. Also chipping in are dependable receivers Deontay Burnett and Tyler Vaughns, with whoever else happens to step up on a given day.
The Southern Cal defense hasnt really been that good, even by conference standards. But with the injuries theyve had, piecing together something semi-respectable stands as an accomplishment. There are more guys they were counting on at the beginning of the season who are on the injury list than are on the actual field. And they havent been the most-clutch defense at times this season. But despite all their issues, they have made plays, with 20 turnovers on the season and a consistently-applied pass-rush. Jack Jones leads the way with four picks, as USC has picked off 13 balls this season. Guys like Rasheem Green and Ucheena Nwosu (questionable) have gotten after the quarterback. They can be exploited, but on the right day, they can make big contributions to the team effort. On Saturday, five sacks and three turnovers were big for this defense.
This could be a tough spot for a USC team that has hardly been bankable this season. Coming right out of a hot summer, Boulder is starting to get chilly and USC, while in-conference, is a little out of their element in this game. The Trojans offense is peaking, especially on the groundan area of weakness for the Colorado D. I see Colorado hanging in there and making a game of it. But in the end, I dont think their defense is bringing enough overall juice into week 11 to keep this one tight. Im laying the points on the Trojans.
Scott’s Pick to Cover the Point Spread: Im betting on the USC Trojans minus 13.5 points. Move the line on this game up to 20 points by inserting it into a 20 point football teaser at the web’s best sportsbook: 5dimes!