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Utah Utes vs. USC Trojans Point Spread - Pick

Utah Utes (4-1 SU, 4-0-1 ATS) vs. USC Trojans (5-1 SU, 1-5 ATS)
College Football Week 7
Date/Time: Saturday, October 14, 2017 at 8PM EST
Where: Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum, Los Angeles, California
TV: ABC

By Loot, NCAA Football Handicapper, Lootmeister.com

Point Spread: UTAH +13/USC -13
Over/Under Total: 54.5

The Utah Utes come to the LA Coliseum on Saturday for a Pac-12 matchup against the USC Trojans. The Trojans were able to recover from their first loss of the season the previous week to Washington State with a 38-10 win over Oregon State on Saturday. While the loss to the Cougars was deflating, there are still a lot of big things available for the Trojans and they were able to put forth a reasonably-good performance last week. After a demanding back-to-back road sequence, they now return home to face the Utes, who lost their first game of the season in a 3-point loss at home on Saturday to Stanford, 23-20. Despite the loss, the Utes know a highly-successful season is still in the offing if they're able to regroup.

Southern Cal have been an odd study this season. They finished last season in high-flying form, but even though they opened the season 4-0, they never really seemed to hit high-gear, as their 1-5 record against the spread would attest. It manifested in their loss against Washington St., though they did score the win over Oregon State. They still didn't cover the spread against a down Beavers bunch. This week should be a more-accurate barometer on where the midseason Trojans really stand.

Trojans' quarterback Sam Darnold threw for 316 yards and three touchdowns on Saturday against the Beavers. He also threw an interception and coughed up a fumble, as turnovers have become too big a part of his overall profile. That doesn't mean he isn't one of the more-electrifying players in college football. At his best, he runs this offense smoothly, making full use of a vast cast of playmakers. On Saturday, he connected in the end zone with Deontay Burnett (questionable), as well as with youngsters Tyler Vaughns and Josh Falo. RB Ronald Jones, II. had 79 yards and a TD. Eight different USC players had 20 or more yards receiving. The offensive line was adept at keeping the shifty Darnold out of trouble, while opening up holes for the run-game. They should be tested to a greater extent this week against the Utes.

The Trojans defense has been a mixed bag this season. At their best, they make plays and contribute to the overall team cause. At their worst, they give up untimely big plays and can't come up with the big stop. We saw the latter against Texas and late in the loss to Washington State. In their defense, the injuries have been non-ceasing, with a slew of different contributors on this side of the ball missing time. They still have a lot of talent, with Christian Rector up-front, and guys like Marvell Tell and Jack Jones in the secondary. The two have combined for 6 picks this season. But the secondary as a whole hasn't been all that stout and the overall defense has been porous on occasion.

Losing to Stanford at home wasn't a positive development for Utah perhaps, but they lost by a field goal as three-point underdogs, so they basically met expectations. No one pegged them as a national contender and they're still in the Pac-12 South division mix, with all team having at least one loss. In other words, the loss to Stanford was not a good thing, but a team like Utah can bounce back. It's a tough spot, but there is something to be said when quiet-type teams that stress defense are pitted against explosive teams like USC. Maybe they can make some good things happen this week at the Coliseum. And it seems like even less of a pipe dream when you consider they've actually beaten USC two of the last three seasons, including a 31-27 win last season. That was before USC had really gotten into shape and we'll see what they have in store for Southern Cal this season.

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Former starter Troy Williams has taken over at QB for Utah with the shoulder injury to Tyler Huntley. Let's just say while competent at times, the offense seemed to have a lot more life to it with Huntley in there. Williams was just 20-for-39 against Stanford for two picks, one of which was a costly late one as the Utes tried to make a comeback. They got good play from running backs Zack Moss and Devonta'e Henry-Cole. And the addition this season of Oregon transfer WR Darren Carrington has given the offense another dimension, with Raelon Singleton and Troy McCormick, Jr. also chipping in.

Most good Utah teams have a really good defense and this Utes team is no different. For much of the game, they did a good job in keeping Stanford's Bryce Love in-check, until late when a big TD run broke open what had been a close game. No opponent has surpassed 24 points this season against the Utes and the pass-rush is of a game-changing variety, though they were fairly quiet on Saturday. The secondary was adept in keeping Stanford QB Keller Chryst to just 106 yards through the air.

This is a toughie. Last season, we saw USC able to kick it into high-gear fairly suddenly and this squad could see the same thing happen. It could be a costly endeavor in trying to time that explosion, as those who have bet on the Trojans this season are well aware. The Utes have shown their style of football matches up well with the Trojans the last several times they have met. But at the Coliseum with a compromised offense, facing a Trojans team that is looking for good things after that loss a few weeks ago, this might not be the ideal spot for the Utes. But I see them being resolute enough to come within the spread.

Loot's Prediction to Cover the Point Spread: I'm betting on the Utah Utes plus 13 points.Tired of your credit card not working for sportsbook deposit? End that problem today and bet the Utes vs. Trojans by signing up at Bovada Sportsbook where your credit card WILL work and where you'll receive a generous 50% sign-up bonus!

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