September 21, 2018
There is one college football pick tonight.
Washington State +4.5 spread against USC risking 3% of the bankroll.
The USC Trojans, who were held in such high regard in the preseason don't appear to be as good as many expected them to be this season. They come into this game having won only one game (against an overmatched UNLV team) and in the last two contests, against Stanford and Texas, they have looked completely out of their league. The offense has been almost non-existent this season. Their ground game, which has been what has offered balance to this program over the years in averaging just over 100 yards per game, which has put an immense amount of pressure on their freshman quarterback, JT Daniels. Daniels came highly touted out of high school but has thrown for just 819 yards one touchdown and three interceptions.
Meanwhile, the Washington State Cougars haven't appeared to miss a beat in replacing all-time leading passer Luke Falk. Grad transfer, Gardner Minshew has stepped right in and is operating Mike Leach’s air-raid offense to near perfection. He is currently completing 70.9% of his passes and is third in the country in passing yards this season. Quarterback play is going to be the difference in this contest. No matter how talented Daniels is, the fact remains that he is still just 18 years old and the USC defense hasn't seen a passing attack this season like Washington State is going to bring in this matchup.
Washington State’s high-octane pass offense is going to be a challenge for USC to contend with here. The Trojans have allowed just 171.3 yards per game while limiting their opponents to a 50 percent completion rate, but the Cougars have so many options in the passing game, led by a veteran QB, which is going to be tough to contain. Add to the fact that USC will be missing star DE/LB, Porter Gustin in the first half of this game for targeting against Texas and two starters in safety Bubba Bolden and Isaiah Pola-Mao, and that leaves the defense very susceptible tonight.
The Washington State defense has also improved this season and they are going to bring the heat on Daniels tonight. If the Cougars can slow down the ground attack of USC, that is going to put even more pressure on Daniels to carry the offensive load and try to move the football downfield, which hasn't worked out for him thus far this season. If the Trojans are once again playing from behind, it is going to be tough for them to keep pace offensively in this game.
We simply don't see a clear path to victory for USC in this contest. They will need a lot of things to go there way and other than the motivational angle, we feel that Washington State has the edge in every other aspect of this game. We wouldn't be surprised if the Cougars won this game outright, but even if USC happens to win, it will likely be by the narrowest of margins, in which case, the points will likely come into play.
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