Despite being 3-1 on the season, including beating a very good and underrated Utah State squad, the Trojans continue to be ignored by the betting public. As of Thursday evening, nearly 75% of the wagers placed on the USC/Arizona State game have favored the “bloated” home favorite. I say bloated because several large betting groups and professional bettors moved aggressively on the opening number (USC at +7), which indicates that the oddsmakers made a mistake. While the point spread currently sits at USC +4, we believe the Trojans still offer solid value to the betting public.
USC (+4) (-110) at Arizona State
- USC has one of the best defensive coordinators in college football in Clancy Pendergast, who guides a stop unit that is allowing 11.0 points per game this season;
- Overall, the Trojans are 1.5 yards per rush play, 1.9 yards per pass attempt and1.6 yards per play better than average defensively in 2013;
- Arizona State is 0.7 yards per play better than average offensively, which gives the Trojans a significant 0.9 yards per play advantage defensively in this contest;
- The Sun Devils are a one-dimensional offense as they cannot run the ball (0.5 yards per rush play worse than average), which plays into USC’s strength on defense (its NFL-caliber secondary);
Based strictly upon the fundamental metrics, USC is at least 2.5-points better than the Sun Devils from the line of scrimmage. Bettors have the impression that Arizona State is very good offensively, which is only true because of their +23.3 play margin this season. But, even an up-tempo offense is no match for one of the nation’s best defenses that has not allowed more than 14 points in any of its four games. Pro Edge and its sources jumped all over USC earlier this week, betting the Trojans at +7, +6.5 and +6 before most of the value was sucked out of the line.