Will USC Bounce Back This Week at Arizona State
Wayne Root: Will USC Bounce Back This Week at Arizona State?
Last week I won my Pac 12 Game of the Year...it was a PINNACLE play on Stanford (+10) over USC in one of the biggest gifts I've ever seen in this sport. I talked about that matchup a week ago right here on these pages. I didn't want to tip my hand too much because Stanford had so much going for them. I had to underplay things in that web article to protect my clients. If you were watching the game on TV, you know the cover was never in doubt. It was obvious the road underdog was going to move the ball easily all night.
Another outright upset call for the man who leads the industry in documented upset calls!
Final Score: Stanford 41, USC 31
Final Yardage: Stanford 474, USC 427
Final Third Down Conversion Rate: Stanford 67%, USC 40%
Stanford was a 9-10 point underdog...yet owned the point of attack and imposed their will on the outmanned "favorite." You know, the Cardinal didn't turn the ball over a single time. They just marched down the field at 6.5 yards-per-play without a single giveaway on their way to 41 points and a marquee win.
This week, the focus moves to whether or not USC can bounce back from that on the road against Arizona State. It would be amazing if the team that had been the #6 team in the country lost twice in a row! That's certainly possible. The market has installed USC as a 5.5 point favorite. These issues remain:
*The defense just isn't very good. You saw that last week. They returned seven starters from last season...but that defense only ranked #76 nationally. Maybe they didn't get better at all! Sometimes teams who are coached by former quarterbacks remain perpetually soft on defense because it's not a priority. Is that happening here with Steve Sarkisian?
*Speaking of Sarkisian, he's become an issue because of an embarrassing drunken tirade this past summer. There's not much patience for that kind of nonsense at major programs. He became "embattled" coach Steve Sarkisian in short order. That bad loss to Stanford certainly didn't help his cause. If the players don't respect their head coach...they may underachieve in big games all season. (By the way...there are A LOT of big games on the USC schedule this season!)
*The offense may rely too much on big plays, and not enough on game control. That didn't matter in relatively easy openers to the 2015 season. But, it becomes very important once you're battling within a tough division in a power conference. Winning teams need to be able to run clock to keep dangerous opponents off the field. They need to be able to slam the door in the fourth quarter with a lead. Offenses who mix the occasional super-exciting big play with punts are in trouble when they're own defense can't force the other team to punt!
Don't get me wrong...this is still a very good team. Quarterback Cody Kessler was 25-32-0-272 passing in a losing effort. He plays like that again this week...and the Trojans will certainly have a shot at covering in the desert. Handicappers have to figure out what exactly this USC team is going to do on a week-by-week basis...and whether or not the betting markets and national polls will have the Trojans overrated. I'll be very interested to see how the players respond to falling all the way to #19 in the polls from #6. Talk about flunking the eye test!
As always, I can't tell you here in a web article who I like in this matchup (if anyone, at the current price). That wouldn't be fair to my paying customers. I can tell you this...if USC had won and covered last week, I would have been all over Arizona State as a home underdog! That would have been ideal from the ASU perspective...catching USC in a letdown spot here at a tough home site. The soft USC defense and "Sarkisian soap opera" may still have me on the Sun Devils come game day. I have more time to think through this one...and I will say that my evaluation of ASU quarterback Mike Bercovici will likely be the deciding factor one way or another.
My top college and pro plays can always be purchased right here at the website with your credit card. If you have any questions about which of my programs best suits your individual needs, please talk to one of my representatives in the office at 1-877-ROOT-WINS. Do what you can to join the betting army that rides those PINNACLE PLAYS every week!
I'll see you again this weekend to talk about the surprisingly hot New York Jets' home game against the surprisingly awful Philadelphia Eagles. That's going to be a very tricky matchup to handicap because NFL "history" tends to favor 0-2 teams against the number...but this Jets defense may be perfectly suited to stopping Philly's spread offense.
Between now and the weekend...there are nightly schedules to attack in football and baseball. The only man in the sports betting industry with a star on the "Walk of Fame" here in Las Vegas is on another great run. That means it's time for you to go to W.A.R. alongside WAYNE ALLYN ROOT!
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