USC vs. Arizona State preview: The calm before the conference storm

USC hits the road for the first time this season as they take on the Arizona Sate Sun Devils. This game should be the calm before the storm for the Trojans.

LOS ANGELES — Saturday night, the Trojans will take the short trip from Southern California to Tempe, Arizona, as they take on the Arizona St. Sun Devils. After dominating opponents through their first three games, which included a decimation of the Stanford Cardinals in their final PAC-12 opener, the Trojans enjoyed a much-deserved bye-week. Before the gauntlet of the top contenders in the PAC begins, the Trojans will have what should be another tune-up game vs. the Arizona St. Sun Devils.

Where To Spend Your Money

Before we get into the gridiron’s nitty-gritty, let’s dive deep into our wallets for this one. The spread is 34.5 in favor of the Trojans, and the Over/Under on this one is 62. When I see a high over like this one could be considered, I take the over (ditto with the O/U being low; I lean under). Remember you’re betting against Las Vegas; they’re trying to bate you and take your money. While 34.5 is a hefty sum (the Trojans would have to win by a minimum of FIVE touchdowns to jump the number), It’s not one I’m too afraid of. USC has been favored in every contest thus far, all with heavy spreads, and has covered 2 out of 3 times. The Sun Devils are already decimated by the injury bug, starting QB3 (Drew Pyne) and missing nine other players who have at least started one game on top of the QB spot. Last year, when Texas played Oklahoma, in a game where the Sooners started a backup QB, the Longhorns beat them to the tune of 49-0. The Sooners were still better than the Sun Devils are now, and the Trojans were better than their Rose Bowl rivals were. By this weird transitive property, I’m going with a victory for the Trojans by the score of 45-7. ASU could get lucky and find pay dirt, but by and large, this should be another game where Caleb Williams’ night ends relatively early. Trojans cover, and this one goes under.

Injury Report

One might be most important is leaving Tempe in one piece. Not to overly besmirch the opponent this week, but USC SHOULD wipe the floor with the Sun Devils. Prized transfer Mason Cobb didn’t play against Stanford or Nevada, but after a week off, the Oklahoma State transfer was in pads at practice and should be suiting up for the game. I’d predict a limited snap count against a depleted ASU team to get him into the speed of things before the upcoming slate of competitive matches. Here’s what Cobb had to say post-practice:

Checking In On Future Opponents In Big Games

While the minds and hearts of the USC Trojans may be in Tempe, the Trojan faithful may have one eye toward Boulder and another toward South Bend. The Oregon Ducks are traveling from Eugene to matchup with Coach Prime’s Buff’s, and the Fighting Irish host the perennial playoff players, the Ohio State Buckeyes. The Ducks and Fighting Irish are, without a doubt, the most demanding tests the Trojans will face on the road this fall. They’ll see Notre Dame in just a few short weeks, in early October, then head to Nike land come November. If Lanning, Nix, and Co. head to Colorado and get punched in the mouth by the Sanders family, that adds another wrinkle into what many hope to be a Cinderella season for USC. While from a hype standpoint, the CU-USC matchup next Saturday in Boulder should be significant, the contest itself SHOULD be lopsided. The Ducks (in their game) are favored over the Buffs by a cool 21 points. Point blank: Vegas is anticipating a thrashing (63% of the public is on CU, and that’s what the lovely oddsmakers want). If Deion backs up the bark with some bite and takes down Oregon, USC’s schedule gets more complex and more unpredictable.

Similarly to the matchup in Boulder, the Buckeyes head to Notre Dame Stadium, where 3.5 points favor them despite being the road team. A victory by both home dogs would put Lincoln and the boys on serious alert.

In the end, Both the matchups mentioned above will be extremely telling. Is Colorado a genuine contender, or are they a pretender? Is this Fighting Irish team for real under Marcus Freeman? Can Hartman continue his muted dominance? Can Deion continue to marvel the Nation? If all answers are yes, the Trojans better be prepared to go from ASU’s JV squad to two of the more arduous road games anyway plays all year.