There are plenty of great games each and every week on the college football slate that jump out at you making it that much harder to zero in on one game each Saturday. In this weekly series, we’ll circle one game, break down the matchup and lay out the evidence as to why this is the lock of the week.
Our lock of the week is always a pick against the spread. While we’re not saying it’s wrong to bet over/unders or money lines, we’re just going the spread route.
Last week we went with Virginia Tech (-6) against Georgia Tech and the Hokies rolled to a 45-0 win in Atlanta. Thanks to the win last week, we’re 4-2-1 on the season since starting these picks. This week we’re going out to Los Angeles for the UCLA vs. USC contest.
UCLA @ USC (-14)
UCLA (4-6, 4-3 Pac 12)
No. 23 USC (7-4, 6-2 Pac 12)
Kickoff: 3:30 PM EST, ABC
The Pick: USC -14
A 14-point spread may look like a lot, especially with just three of USC’s seven wins being by 14 points or more this season, but this game shouldn’t be close to a two-score game when it’s all said and done. UCLA is still battling for a bowl game with two games left on the slate as well, but don’t let that shy you away.
Outside of their Week 3 loss at BYU, the Trojans’ losses this season have been admirable. They enter this contest winners of two straight fresh off of a dominant 41-17 road win at Cal. UCLA, on the other hand, had its three-game winning streak snapped last weekend with a 49-3 loss at Utah.
There are a couple of glaring statistics with these two teams that point to a big USC win involving the Trojans’ elite passing game and the Bruins’ atrocious pass-defense.
USC enters the contest with the No. 11 passing game in the country averaging 319.6 yards through the air this season. Freshman Kedon Slavis has played extremely well this season and enters Saturday coming off of back-to-back 400+ passing yard performances to go along with eight touchdowns and one interception.
Slovis and his No. 1 target Michael Pittman Jr. will be a problem for UCLA.
The Bruins pass defense is the eighth-worst among FBS teams giving up over 298 yards through the air per contest. They gave up a whopping 536 total yards, including 335 yards passing, during last week’s blowout loss to Utah. UCLA’s defense hasn’t been good at forcing interceptions either as it’s tied for the fewest interceptions in the conference with four.
What’s alarming is that UCLA’s pass defense actually isn’t the worst in the Pac 12, that title goes to Colorado.
An elite passing offense and a terrible pass defense may be keeping things simple, but keeping things simple is what has pushed us to a 4-2-1 record in this weekly series and that’s what we’re sticking with for the final few weekends of the year.
The Trojans roll on Saturday and win by at least 20 points.