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USC Trojans vs. Colorado Buffaloes Game Preview, Pick & Odds

USC Trojans (4-3 Overall, 3-1 in Pac-12)


Colorado Buffaloes (4-3 Overall, 1-3 in Pac-12)

Friday, October 25, 2019 @ 9 PM EST

Folsom Field (Boulder, CO)

Moneyline: USC -450, CU +360

Spread: USC -12.5 (-110), CU +12.5 (-110)

Total: Over 64 (-115)/Under 64 (-105)

Odds courtesy of MyBookie

Game Preview

Colorado has never beaten USC and the Trojans have won all 13 matchups by an average of over 20 points per game. So, history would dictate that USC will win and cover on Saturday. Despite Colorado’s abysmal defense, an injury-riddled USC team will have its hands full on Friday night.

Both teams have had their fair share of struggles on defense, but Colorado has been towards the bottom of all of college football. USC hasn’t been especially impressive, ranking 92nd in yards allowed (416.9 YPG) and T-49th in scoring defense (24 PPG). But, they have the advantage over Colorado by a large margin, as the Buffaloes rank in the bottom 15 in the country in both points and yards per game allowed, allowing 482.4 YPG (124th of 130) and 34.9 PPG (116th of 130).

USC Trojans (4-3 Overall, 3-1 in Pac-12)

With a litany of injury issues on both sides of the ball, and especially on defense, USC has done shockingly well this season, as the Pac-12 South title is still in play for the Trojans. But, they could be without their three leading rushers, who’ve accounted for almost 93% of their backfield’s production, on Friday night.

The Trojans’ leading rusher, Vavae Malepeai, is out indefinitely after undergoing knee surgery. Their second-leading rusher, Markese Stepp, tore a ligament in his ankle in last week’s game and could miss up to five weeks. And their third-leading rusher, Stephen Carr, suffered a hamstring strain last week, so he is unlikely to play tomorrow night. True freshman Kenan Christon is the last man standing in the backfield, but that may not be the worst thing for the Trojans this week. In his debut last week against Arizona, Christon ran the ball eight times for 103 yards and two touchdowns.

In addition to a depleted backfield, USC has also had to balance a quarterback carousel, as they’ve had three different starting quarterbacks so far. Fortunately, true freshman Kedon Slovis has filled in quite nicely when healthy, as he’s completed 73.6% of his passes (2nd in Pac-12) for 1,219 yards, nine touchdowns and four interceptions. His passer rating of 162.2 makes him the fourth-most efficient passer in the Pac-12 this season. Slovis will need Kenan Christon to open things up for the passing game, as Colorado will likely drop eight guys in coverage, thanks to USC’s below-average rushing attack. The Trojans have averaged just 153.7 yards per game (83rd in FBS), which is very similar to Colorado’s 154.4 yards per game (78th in FBS).

Colorado Buffaloes (3-4 Overall, 1-3 in Pac-12)

Colorado has had a very, very rough three-game stretch. The Buffaloes have lost three games in a row and have lost their last two games by a combined 73 points (45-3 loss @ Oregon, 41-10 loss @ Washington State).

After a 3-1 start, in which the Buffaloes turned the ball over just four times, Colorado has turned the ball over seven times (all of them coming as interceptions in the last two games) and lost three straight games. In those three games, they’ve allowed 1,511 yards and over seven yards per play. To put that in perspective, Utah has allowed 1,765 TOTAL yards this season.

Another incredible statistic that needs to be put in perspective, the Buffaloes have allowed 2,212 passing yards (129th in FBS). Two teams in the Pac-12 (Utah and Oregon) have allowed fewer TOTAL yards than Colorado has allowed passing yards.

On offense, the Buffaloes scored 30+ points in four of their first five games, before being held to just 13 total points in their last two games. These games were both on the road against far superior teams, but Colorado’s offense looked much worse than usual. They committed 14 offensive penalties, threw three interceptions and were held to just 299 total yards and three points against Oregon. Against Washington State last weekend, their offense could only muster up 320 total yards and 10 points.

An obvious reason for this huge drop-off in offensive production has been the poor play of senior QB Steven Montez. Montez completed 67% of his passes for 1,463 yards, 10 touchdowns and two interceptions in their first five games. But, he’s completed just under 55% of his passes for just 260 yards, zero touchdowns and six interceptions in their last two games. That type of production can be understood in a road game against a top-10 Oregon team, but playing so poorly against Washington State team that had allowed 1,715 yards in its last three games is unacceptable and a bad sign for the rest of the season.

The Pick

Despite all their injuries, I think USC will be able to capitalize on their opportunities against Colorado, as the Buffaloes have one of the worst defenses in the country. Colorado’s offense has shot themselves in the foot a staggering amount of times in the past few weeks and if the Trojans can force a couple of ill-advised throws, I think they could make this a long day for Steven Montez and the Buffaloes. I’m betting on USC to continue their dominance over Colorado, as they win and cover on Friday night.

Betting Trends

USC has won all 13 of their matchups with Colorado

The TOTAL has gone UNDER in 4 of USC’s last 5 games

USC is 6-3 ATS in their last 9 games against Colorado

Colorado is 1-5 ATS in their last 6 HOME games

USC -12.5 (-110)