USC Trojans vs. Utah Utes Point Spread Pick
USC Trojans (2-0 SU, 0-2 ATS) vs. Utah Utes (0-0 SU, 0-0 ATS)
College Football Week 12
Date and Time: Saturday, November 21, 2020 at 7:30PM EST
Where: Rice-Eccles Stadium, Salt Lake City, Utah
Over/Under Total: 56.5
The USC Trojans come to Salt Lake City to take on the Utah Utes in Pac-12 action on Saturday. For Utah, making it onto the field would be a victory, as they’ve had their first two games canceled. It has to be hard on a young team during this unprecedented time. Meanwhile, the Trojans have been able to sidestep virus issues, winning both of their games, sweeping both Arizona teams, including a hard-fought win on Saturday where they had to score a TD in the game’s waning moments to earn the win. Who can get the job done this Saturday?
USC’s Penchant for Drama
On one hand, they’ve been slightly underwhelming with two narrow wins over the Arizona schools. They are 2-0, and that’s all that really counts. But they’ve fallen flat in a betting sense, going into both games as double-digit favorites and winning each game narrowly. The thought was that a blossoming QB in Kedon Slovis could run over these teams with an experienced backfield and a gaggle of receivers with upside and experience. But the offense hasn’t been in high-gear.
One thing that could play off, and it’s something we started to see developing at times last season, was USC’s ability to see late-game drama go their way. In both games this season, USC entered the last few minutes of the game behind, only to come up with very late touchdowns to salvage wins. And in the first game against ASU, Southern Cal needed two TDs in the last three minutes to get the win. While that type of late-game ability is nice, they now look for a more complete 60 minutes against a rested home Utah team this week.
Gauging the Utah Headspace
As we get into some unprecedented waters in college ball, we have to wonder what we have with Utah, a team entering week 12 and having not yet played a game. On the one hand, you can reckon that at least Kyle Whittingham’s team has no wear and tear, and all this stop-and-go action might have them chomping at the bit to play some football. Then you think what might be going through your head as a young player amid these conditions where maybe the mind starts to wander. I would assume their head coach should be able to get the most out of the team, but it still makes you think. Not to mention that despite being saved some wear and tear, USC might just be ahead of them on the football evolution chart, having played two hard-fought games.
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Utah’s Challenges for This Week and Beyond
Having your first two games dashed because of corona after waiting all this time to get started may have taken some wind out of the Utah sails, particularly for a team trying to work in a lot of new pieces, including a QB, a new backfield, and nine defensive starters. One is perhaps inclined to defer to Kyle Whittingham’s recruiting and team-building expertise, but we don’t know a ton about what this Utah team will look like when they hit the field. We know that they have a solid offensive line to fall back on, but their defense status leaves a lot of questions. And for all their faults, unveiling a totally revamped defense against this USC offense offers a difficult challenge.
Still, they have dominated the Pac-12 South the last two seasons, and some pieces are still in place. Whether they can maintain their identity as a top defensive team remains to be seen and will play a big role in who covers the spread this week. On offense, the new starting quarterback, presumably, Cam Rising or Jake Bentley, the South Carolina grad transfer, will inherit their top two receiving threats from last season, Grant Kuithe and Bryan Thompson. But make no mistake, replacing Tyler Huntley, and Zack Moss will be no easy task, as they were a massive part of the Utah success the last few seasons.
Questions for Utah
With USC’s defense sometimes a drawback this season, how confident are you laying points on a Utah offense so up in the air? The running back by committee approach might need some time to come around, and they were robbed of that the last two weeks. And the best thing that USC does, which is putting together big scoring drives, is something that Utah might not be able to stop as well as they did last season and beyond. In other words, how solid will Utah be with such an abundance of youth? They have a roster packed with freshmen, redshirt freshmen, and sophomores. Missing games because they didn’t meet the minimum requirements for scholarship athletes, attests to the lack of experience and proven production on both sides of the ball. And playing either of their scheduled first two opponents, either Arizona or UCLA would have been easier 2020 entrance exams than what USC is.
Take the Road Favorite
This qualifies as a bet into the dark, not really knowing what Utah is at this point. And that’s a strange thing this late in a season, but it is what it is. Utah presumably still has some pieces that led to them being so good in this conference, but with all the upheaval on the other side of the ball, it might be a challenge keeping pace with a USC offense that might be hitting its stride. I’ll take the Trojans in this one.
Loot’s Pick to Cover the Point Spread: I’m betting on the USC Trojans minus 2.5 points. This is a GREAT game to tease the point spread. You can do so UP TO 20 POINTS! at BetAnySports!
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