Week 10 Picks: Oregon Ducks at USC Trojans

by | Oct 31, 2019 | cfb

Oregon Ducks (7-1 SU, 4-4 ATS) at USC Trojans (5-3, 4-4 ATS)
When: Saturday, November 2, 8 p.m EDT
Where: Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum, Los Angeles
TV: ESPN

Point Spread: ORE -4.5/USC +3.5 (Bovada)
Total: O/U 63

Outlook For Week 10

For Oregon, this is a rather simple proposition. Beat the Trojans now, or they’ll have to beat the Trojans in Santa Clara to win the Pac-12. At 5-0 in the Pac-12, Oregon has a vice-grip on the North Division, leading Stanford and Washington by three games, a lead that is essentially four because they’ve already beaten both the Cardinal and the Huskies. In fact, literally the only thing Oregon has to do to make the Pac-12 title game is beat Oregon State, something the Ducks have done ten times in the past 11 seasons. So for the Ducks, the remaining four games are all about staying motivated and keeping themselves in line to possibly steal a bid to the College Football Playoff, something they could do if the likes of Clemson, Ohio State, or LSU take a bad loss.

Knocking USC out of the race should be plenty of motivation for the Ducks, as it would allow them to stake their claim as the best the West has to offer. The Trojans are currently in control of the Pac-12 South, but their hold on the race is precarious. Utah also has just one loss (to USC), meaning that one slip would knock the Trojans out of first place and force them to rely on a Ute stumble to get to Santa Clara. USC looks a heck of a lot better than it did at the start of October, after two wins and a close loss at Notre Dame. But, how much of that was the Trojans improving, and how much was getting to play Arizona and Colorado?

How the Public is Betting the Oregon/USC Game

The public believes in the Ducks, pushing Oregon from a 1.5-point favorite at the start of the betting window to 4.5 points now. The total has increased two points, jumping to 62.5.

Injury Concerns

Oregon:

Running back Travis Dye is probable with a head injury, while tight end Jacob Breeland has a knee issue and is out for the season.

USC:

Safety Talanoa Hufanga is out indefinitely with a dislocated right shoulder, while wide receiver Munir McClain is out for the year with a torn ACL. Defensive lineman Drake Jackson is also out indefinitely with a high ankle sprain, as is linebacker Abdul-Malik McClain, who has a dislocated shoulder. Corner Chris Steele is questionable with a knee issue and running back Stephen Carr is recovering from a Grade 2 ankle sprain and is questionable. Running back Vavae Malepeai is also out indefinitely after knee surgery.

More Picks: Dan’s Utah at Washington Prediction ATS >>>

When Oregon Has the Ball

Justin Herbert knows how to sling the ball, but what makes him such an effective leader of the Quack Attack is that he’s willing to take what the defense gives him. Last week against Washington State, the Cougars focused their attention on Herbert and the passing attack, so he chose to instead let running back C.J. Verdell do the damage. Herbert was held to his second-lowest total of yards of the season and didn’t throw a touchdown pass for the first time in 2019, but it didn’t matter because Verdell ran in three scores and finished with 257 rushing yards to escape with the win.

When Herbert does throw, he’s very accurate. Only California has managed an interception against him, and he’s tossed 21 touchdowns against that solitary pick. This is a veteran offense that knows how to move the ball. That’s a deadly combination against a USC defense that hasn’t been able to stop anyone. The Trojans rank 98th in total defense, just ahead of Connecticut. Any time you’re in the same sentence as Connecticut and the subject is football, that’s bad.

When USC Has the Ball

The calls for Clay Helton’s job should probably stop for a while (they won’t, but they should), given that he’s on his third quarterback and fourth running back and still has USC in position to win the Pac-12 South. Kedon Slovis has proven a capable signal-caller as a freshman, and he seems to have grown up quite a bit since his three-pick disaster at Brigham Young. In his past four games, he’s thrown for eight scores against just one interception, and he’s giving USC a chance to win every week.

But that said, he hasn’t seen a challenge as stiff as the Oregon defense. The Ducks rank second in the Pac-12 in total defense behind Utah, and while SC played and beat Utah, Slovis didn’t exactly get to see much of the Utes, as he was knocked out of the game after just two passes. With Carr questionable, the running back in question to help Slovis will likely be Kenan Christon, who ran well against Colorado and Arizona but would face a much tougher test in this game.

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Betting Trends

These squads used to meet almost every year, and it was a highly-anticipated matchup with lots of points every season. But since the Pac-12 went to divisions, they now only meet four out of every six years and haven’t played since 2016. In fact, current Ducks coach Mario Cristobal has yet to face the Trojans as the man in charge in Eugene.

So what can we learn from past trends? Well, we know that Oregon’s not a great cover option once it gets away from Eugene, as the Ducks have covered just six of their past 20 road games with one push. However, SC isn’t a great cover team, period. The Trojans have covered in only 10 of their previous 32 games overall, with one push. This is what happens when you’re a glamour team like SC is: you end up drawing most of the public’s attention and get more money on you than you deserve. Truthfully, the best bet on the board is probably the under, as it’s hit in 12 of Oregon’s last 16 road games and five of USC’s past six games overall.

Weather Report

Maybe it feels like fall elsewhere in the country, but it sure isn’t going to be like that in the Coliseum, as temperatures are expected to hit 82 degrees on a clear, beautiful day in Los Angeles.

Dan’s Pick to Cover the Spread

Neither of these teams is great ATS, but I’m going to lean toward the Ducks here. With the likes of Wisconsin and Georgia going down in recent weeks, Oregon is starting to believe there is genuine hope that it could sneak into the playoff if it can run the table. Plus, if Oregon plans on making the playoff, the Ducks badly need a win over Utah on their resume.

The only way Oregon can get a win over the Utes is to beat the Trojans first and hand Utah the South Division crown, so this game is a big one for the Ducks. I think they’ll be able to get by the young Trojans and virtually lock up their spot in Santa Clara.

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