Check out our new college football “Fab Five” in this quick video:
The USC Trojans will be looking to stay on the winning track when they entertain the California Golden Bears at L.A. Memorial Coliseum on Saturday night. USC halted a two-game skid with a victory over Oregon State last weekend. The Golden Bears are 2-4 in their last six contests following a recent loss at Washington State.
Strong defense, suspect offense
California started the season 3-0 and appeared in the AP Top 25 poll at that point. However, things have gone downhill for the Golden Bears with losses in four of their last six games. They have at least managed to be competitive of late–in both wins and losses. After scraping past Washington 12-10, California lost at Washington State 19-13 this past week.
As those recent scores indicate, the Golden Bears have excelled on defense but cannot get in a groove on offense. California boasts the Pac-12’s third-best overall defense, surrendering only 323 total yards per game. It is also No. 1 in the conference against the pass. However, the team ranks ninth in the Pac-12 in total offense at 381 yards per contest. The Golden Bears have juggled starting quarterbacks the whole way this season, with freshman Chase Garbers and sophomore Brandon McIlwain splitting time. Gabers got the start against Washington State and went 15-of-26 for 127 yards with one touchdown and one interception.
Pittman likely sidelined
Junior receiver Michael Pittman Jr. missed practice on Tuesday due to a shoulder injury that he sustained during USC’s recent win over over Oregon State. Pittman, the team’s leading receiver with 561 yards and six touchdowns, is unlikely to play against California according to head coach Clay Helton. Freshman Amon-ra St. Brown would join redshirt sophomore Tyler Vaughns on the outside to replace Pittman. Redshirt sophomore Velus Jones Jr. would play inside.
“I think it’s gonna be hard (for Pittman to play),” Helton said. “Unless it improves really fast. Probably a better chance the following week.”
— USC Football (@USC_FB) November 5, 2018
Pittman’s absence would not be what the doctor ordered for a USC offense that is already struggling relative to its lofty standards. Quarterback J.T. Daniels missed a loss to Arizona State two weeks ago because of a concussion but returned last Saturday against the Beavers. In two of their four setbacks this season the Trojans have scored no more than 14 points (17 combined against Stanford and Texas).
The USC Trojans are:
- 7-1-1 ATS in their last nine November games
- 7-2 ATS in their last nine games against California
- 12-2 Under in their last 14 games against California
The California Golden Bears are:
- 17-36 ATS in their last 53 games following a loss
- 5-0 Under in their last five overall
- 6-0 Under in their last six road games
The Bottom Line What to bet on this game.
Full-Game Side Bet
Daniels is back for the Trojans, and that alone should be enough for the home team to outscore an opponent that is really reeling at the moment. This does not bode well for the Golden Bears’ chances to turn a recent tide in this conference rivalry matchup. California’s last win over USC came a triple-overtime thriller 15 years ago. It is worth noting that the favorite is 7-2 ATS in the last nine meetings between the two teams.
Prediction: USC Trojans
Full-Game Total Pick
USC is 10th in the Pac-12 in total offense, including ninth in passing and 10th in rushing. Pittman’s potential absence won’t help matters. Fortunately for the Trojans, they can play some defense (tied for third in the conference with 24 sacks). The under is 5-0 in California’s last five overall, 6-0 in their last six on the road, and 9-4 in their last 13 against winning opponents. It is also 4-1 in the Trojans’ last five following a win and 11-5-1 in their last 17 November contests. Additionally, the under is 12-2 in the last 14 meetings between the two teams and 6-1 in California’s last seven trips to USC. Look for this one to stay under the total.