No. 2 Southern California Trojans (2-0 SU, 0-2 ATS) vs. No. 21 Stanford Cardinal (2-0 SU, 1-1 ATS)
College Football Week 3
Date/Time: Saturday, September 15th, 2012/7:30 p.m. EST
Where: Stanford Stadium, Stanford, Calif.
TV: FOX Network
by Badger, Football Handicapper, Predictem.com
Point Spread: USC -9/Stan +9
Over/Under Total: 56
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The 2nd-ranked USC Trojans havent found a way to beat the 21st-ranked Stanford Cardinal in three years, so theyll have to find a way to do it on the road this Saturday at Stanford Stadium in a battle of PAC-12 unbeaten teams if the Trojans want to keep their BCS title hopes alive.
USC has taken care of business so far in 2012, running out to a 2-0 start following last weeks, 42-29, victory over Syracuse in a game played in MetLife Stadium in New Jersey. Heisman-hopeful quarterback Matt Barkley threw six touchdowns in the game and the Trojans had over 250 yards rushing against the Orange (7.8 ypc), but once again the Trojans came nowhere near covering the giant point spread as Syracuse actually outgained the heralded USC offense and hung around until midway through the final quarter.
Next up is Stanford, a team that has been a huge thorn in the Trojans side and one that has actually beaten USC in four of the last five seasons.
Stanford is off to a 2-0 start following last weeks, 50-13, thrashing of Duke. QB Josh Nunes is doing a decent job of filling the shoes of the departed Andrew Luck so far (275 yards, 3 TD vs. Duke), but dont be fooled by the Cardinals 2-0 start this season. Stanford has actually been outgained by both San Jose State and Duke in their two wins and lost the time of possession in both games too, so they are far from a team that looks ready to tangle with the No. 2 team in the land.
All of the heavy early action on USC has messed with the betting line in this game too.
Originally opening at USC minus -6.5-points, the money rained down on the Trojans so much at the window that oddsmakers at the sportsbooks moved the number up to minus -9 within hours of its release. Im not sure if its because after -44 and 2-4.5 point spreads in their first two games the public was excited to see the Trojans under double-digits for the first time, or if the publics love affair with USC is just that strong, but either way its thrown up a red flag in some betting circles on the Internet.
The over/under total opened at 56 at a few of the online sportsbooks already, but with a lack of availability at most books the total has yet to show any line movement yet.
Offensively this game could become a shootout just like the last few years have turned into, including last years classic, 56-48, multiple overtime thriller won by Luck and the Cardinal (under protest by USC fans!). Barkley and the Trojans have been impossible to stop thus far, and considering that the Cardinal defense gave up 358 yards passing to Duke last week, Barkley and his bevy of weapons outside on the perimeter have to be itching to play a little pitch-n-catch on Saturday.
But as some fans found out when Syracuse tallied over 450 yards on the Trojans defense last week, USC isnt as deep and formidable on defense as most championship caliber teams are at this point. Stanford will NEED running back Stepfan Taylor to step up his game and take pressure off of Nunes if the Cardinal hope to hang around in this game to the end.
Looking at recent history is a little deceiving as far as handicapping goes, since Luck is the type of special QB that only comes along once every few decades. Because of Luck the Cardinal have hung 55, 37 and 56 points on the Trojans during the three-game winning streak head-to-head, but those playstation-type numbers will be a little harder for the Cardinal to come up with this season.
Stanfords also owned this head-to-head matchup at the window of late as well, going 6-2 ATS over the last eight years. However, the Cardinal are only 2-3 ATS at home in Stanford Stadium since 2002 as most of the damage has been done on the road.
In fact, thats one of the best betting trends for this game the road team. The road team is 6-1 ATS in the last seven meetings and more times than not its been the underdog doing it away from home as well (dog is 4-1 ATS in L5).
But the strongest betting trend and maybe the best wager of the game could be on the over. The over is 13-3 in the last 16 head-to-head meetings in the series, and its also a strong 6-1 in the last seven games played in Stanford Stadium.
Badger’s Pick to Cover the Point Spread: All of the early line movement in this game has scared me off, since I originally liked the Trojans as well, but I dont really like being on the same side as everyone and their brother on this game. Im going to play it safe and take the over in this game, as USC will likely put up 40 by themselves. Take the over of 56.
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