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December 1, 2017

There is one pick tonight.

Take Stanford +4 spread against USC for 3% of the bankroll. 

Many may be anticipating this PAC-12 Championship game between the Stanford Cardinal and USC Trojans to play out similar to the first meeting between these two teams. The Trojans completely dominated the Cardinal by a score of 42-24 in their early September matchup, but we believe a lot has changed with these teams since Week 2. In their first matchup, Stanford was led by now-benched Keller Chryst and their typically stout rushing defense had an off outing, allowing a season high 307 yards on the ground. Since then however, the college football world has been introduced to Bryce Love and the strong Stanford ground game has been upgraded with the addition of redshirt freshman K.J. Costello, who is coming off an impressive 4 touchdown performance against Notre Dame, the same Notre Dame team that embarrassed USC on primetime television just a couple of weeks earlier. This is a much more well-equipped Stanford team than the Trojans saw the first time around.

Let's not forget that the public is once again enamored with the play of USC quarterback Sam Darnold. We'll give credit where credit is due in that Darnold is playing much better the later part of the season. He has managed to cut down on the turnovers that have plagued him this season, but he is still known to try and force the football into tight windows, which against this Stanford secondary, could be a recipe for disaster. The Cardinals have 16 interceptions on the season which is tied for 10th most in the FBS. Stanford managed to pick off Darnold twice in their first meeting and wouldn't be surprised to see them grab a couple more turnovers in this contest as well.

Besides the fact that Stanford has improved leaps and bounds from earlier this season, they also should have a motivation edge over their opponents after suffering such a glaring beatdown in their first meeting. David Shaw is a veteran coach and knows all about making adjustments. There is no question that he and his team have gone over the tape of their first meeting with the Trojans many times in anticipation of this rematch and we expect him to identify the holes in their game to ensure they don't have a repeat performance of their first meeting. Shaw will have his team ready for this rematch. On the other hand, while it's probably not likely given that this is a title game, but there could be a small percentage of players who may come into this matchup just a bit overconfident given how easily they dispatched this team in Week 2. USC could already be thinking that they are the uncrowned champions of the PAC-12 and that slight overconfidence could be an issue in this rematch tonight.

We expect a much closer matchup than the first meeting and both teams have a legitimate shot at pulling out the victory. It is extremely difficult to defeat a team twice in the same season and we expect USC to struggle a bit tonight. Even if they somehow manage to pull off the outright victory, we don't believe it will be by more than a field goal and that makes the points extremely valuable in this matchup.

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