There is an ancient football proverb that still holds true to this day.
“Good teams win. Great teams cover.”
These wise words apply to the No.6 USC Trojans. Led by head coach Lincoln Riley and quarterback Caleb Williams, the 6-0 Trojans are getting exactly what was expected of them. They’re winning, but against their future former Pac-12 opponents, they are not covering.
The Trojans have covered in the first three weeks of the season, as is expected when against the likes of Rice, Stanford and Fresno State. However, the last two weeks have trended the other way. USC beat Oregon State 17-14 but was favored to win by six points. The Trojans trounced Arizona State 42-25 but the Sun Devils’ 25 points was supposed to be the scoring margin for USC.
Is it going to be any different against Washington State? The Cougars are a three-point loss against Oregon away from making this matchup a battle of undefeated powerhouses. WSU dominated California 28-9 last week. If the Cougars were to fall at USC, it’s unlikely to be by a large margin.
The Trojans have scored over 40 points in three of the last four games. The offense is there and hold it’s end of the bargain. However the the defense will not hold WSU to a place where a 13-point win is attainable.
My pick: Washington State +13
Utah (-3.5) at UCLA
Boy, UCLA has really been tested lately.
After going through the first month getting fat on home-cooked empty calories, the Bruins fans are currently in the midst of a three-week stretch against ranked opponents. UCLA outlasted No. 15 Washington in a double-digit victory last week at home and are now taking on defending champion No.11 Utah.
If UCLA has proven anything this season it is the ability to score. The Bruins have cleared the over/under four of the first five games of the season. Utah averages 42 points per game going into this matchup. It would seem that clearing the 64.5 O/U mark is not only attainable but inevitable.
My pick: O64.5
UNLV (+6.5) at San Jose State
I am fully on-board the runaway train that is UNLV. The Rebels have won three straight for the first time since you have ever recognized their football existence. It’s also the third consecutive week a player earned weekly Mountain West honors. This time it was kicker Daniel Gutierrez, who became the MWC Special Teams Player of the Week for going a perfect three-for-three on field goal attempts, each over 40 yards.
San Jose State enters as the home favorite largely for Chevan Cordeiro’s performance on the road against Wyoming. The MWC Offensive Player of the Week completed 21 passes for a season-high 314 yards and a touchdown, as well as rushing for two more scores against the Cowboys.
If anyone can lead a team past the Rebels it’s Cordeiro and the Spartans but the point spread allows me to have my Vegas cake and eat it too.
My pick: UNLV +6.5
Hawaii at San Diego State (-22)
Good lord, this matchup is a nightmare for this betting columnist. I had Hawaii continuing the trend of owning New Mexico State and San Diego State taking advantage of a new-look Boise State offense. Both those bets fell flat.
So what do I do here? Hawaii is awful but San Diego State is mediocre at best and not good enough to beat anyone by more than 20 points.
My pick: Hawaii +22