USC vs. Cal Odds & Pick Against the Spread 12/4/21

by | Dec 1, 2021 | cfb

USC Trojans (4-7 SU, 4-7 ATS) vs. California Golden Bears (4-7 SU, 6-5 ATS)

When: Saturday, December 4, 11 p.m.

Where: Memorial Stadium, Berkeley, Calif.

TV: Fox

Point Spread: USC +4/CAL -4 (BetNow - Offers the BIGGEST sportsbook bonus on the web; Deposit $100 to $1000 and they’ll match you dollar for dollar!)

Total: O/U 58

Outlook

Call this one the Insomnia Bowl, or perhaps the Irrelevant Bowl, as these two have absolutely nothing to play for other than state pride. If nothing else, USC will be trying to avoid the indignity of losing to all four of California, UCLA, Stanford and Notre Dame, which happened in 2018 and hadn’t happened since 1999 before that ugly mark. With Lincoln Riley already hired in Los Angeles and the Trojans coming in as losers in five of their past six games, there’s not really much to suggest that USC cares about the result in this one.

California has a bit more to care about here. The Golden Bears can’t go to a bowl game either, as no 5-7 teams will be eligible thanks to just enough teams getting to six wins and earning a slot. However, Justin Wilcox has never won more than four games in the Pac-12, and getting to four this time would suggest that Cal is making progress in the league. The Golden Bears looked like their season was completely cooked when they lost five of their first six games, but they’re still playing with enthusiasm and still believe they can salvage something from this season by finishing with four league wins. They’ve played well at home, and with USC about to be in position to compete nationally again, the Golden Bears would love to get their shots in at USC while they can.

How the Public is Betting the USC/California Game

The sharps think that USC is cooked, as they’ve swung the line from USC -1.5 to Cal -4, despite 71 percent of tickets coming in on the Trojans. The total has jumped six points from 52 to 58.

Injury Concerns

USC:
Defensive lineman Ishmael Sopsher (undisclosed), quarterback Kedon Slovis (leg) and running back Keaontay Ingram (upper body) are questionable. Tight end Michael Trigg (leg), defensive lineman Kobe Pepe (shoulder), wide receiver Drake London (ankle), defensive Maninoa Tufono (academics), offensive lineman Frank Martin (academics), linebacker Solomon Tuliapupu (knee), running back Kenan Christon (personal), tight end Josh Falo (undisclosed), cornerback Adonis Otey (wrist), linebacker Jordan Iosefa (knee), linebacker Tayler Katoa (Achilles), quarterback Mo Hasan (knee), safety Briton Allen (knee), wide receiver Jake Smith (foot) and wide receiver Bru McCoy (personal) are out.

California:
Offensive lineman Will Craig (undisclosed) and wide receiver Jeremiah Hunter (undisclosed) are questionable. Linebacker Kuony Deng (leg), defensive tackle Stanley McKenzie (leg) and defensive lineman Brett Johnson (hip)

When USC Has the Ball

Jaxson Dart threw the ball well against BYU and USC came close to pulling off what would have been a surprising upset. That both speaks to the fact that the Trojans played well last week and just how far they’ve fallen: beating BYU at home is not supposed to be considered an upset for this team. Moving the ball has never been the problem for the Trojans, who average 30 points a game and have a genuine big-play threat in Drake London.

No, the problem has been desire, defense and staying healthy. Student Body Right has become Student Body Sidelined, with London and Slovis both among the 18 Trojans who have found their way to the sidelines with various ailments. Lake McRee and Gary Bryant Jr. stood in as the top pass-catchers against BYU, while Vavae Malepeai and Darwin Barlow did the job on the ground. It worked pretty well all things considered, but with how weak the Trojan defense is, USC can’t afford to be just good on offense. It has to be excellent, or it’s going to keep losing.

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When California Has the Ball

Cal football feels a little like Ted Lasso describing Hull City: mayonnaise. The Golden Bears don’t really do anything well but don’t do anything poorly, as they’ve basically been mediocre in every way this season. Chase Garbers has done a decent job of leading the Cal passing attack, and this could be the game where he really shines if the Golden Bears are willing to just let it rip. With USC so weak against the pass and Garbers a senior, this could be a game where California just throws caution to the wind and lets him end his college career by passing the Trojans silly.

If not, Christopher Brooks will also be in position to shine. Brooks hasn’t exactly been anything special this year in Berkeley, but he has gotten the job done well enough to lead the Golden Bears in rushing, and he’s facing a very weak run defense. Whichever way Cal chooses to attack is likely to work.

Betting Trends

This matchup has long been one where points have been at a premium. These teams play every year, and 13 of the past 16 meetings have gone under the total, including six of the past eight matchups in Berkeley. Cal’s used to that, as the Golden Bears have gone to the under seven times in their past eight showings as a home favorite. USC has played over in five of six league games, but the Trojans don’t score a lot when they’re expected to lose, going under in five straight as a dog.

Weather Report

It’s going to be a partly cloudy and cool night in northern California, with temperatures at 45 degrees and wind at four miles per hour to the southeast.

Dan’s Pick to Cover the Spread

USC appears to have checked out of this season long ago, and this makeup game isn’t going to inspire anyone in a Trojan uniform when they’re already thinking about next season. California wants to close its home slate with a win, and I think that’s exactly what ends up happening here.
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