warning Hi, we've moved to USCANNENBERGMEDIA.COM. Visit us there!

Neon Tommy - Annenberg digital news

USC-Arizona Betting Preview

Max Meyer |
October 8, 2013 | 10:16 a.m. PDT

Senior Sports Editor


Can Coach O lead the Trojans to victory in his coaching debut? (Neon Tommy)
Can Coach O lead the Trojans to victory in his coaching debut? (Neon Tommy)
Arizona 3-1 (2-2 ATS) at USC 3-2 (1-4 ATS)

Thursday, October 10th at 7:30 p.m. PST on Fox Sports 1

Latest Odds: USC -6.5 and Over/Under 49.5

Even though Lane Kiffin is no longer coaching USC anymore, this game on Thursday has an oddly-familiar resemblance to a game that the Trojans played earlier this season, against Boston College. 

USC was coming off a brutal loss to Washington State at the time, and is now doing so with a 62-41 blowout against Arizona State. The Trojans once again are returning home to play an inferior team with a one-dimensional offense. They even have an extra week to prepare for this Arizona team.

Boston College was a little overvalued coming into their game against USC, as they had easy victories against Villanova and Wake Forest. Now, Arizona is 3-1, but their wins have come against Northern Arizona, UNLV and UTSA. In their first real test almost two weeks ago, they lost by 18 points to Washington. 

Arizona struggled against Washington because they couldn't stop the run and they fell behind early. Washington running back Bishop Sankey rushed for 161 yards and a touchdown. Washington had 61 rushing attempts, and averaged four yards per carry on them. The effective rushing attack also allowed Washington quarterback Keith Price to have a strong game, averaging 6.6 yards per passing attempt.  

Arizona also never led in that game, falling behind by 11 points as early as the second quarter. That forced their quarterback, B.J. Denker, to throw 35 passes, which is a recipe for disaster for the Wildcats. Denker completed only 14 of them, and averaged only 3.4 yards per pass. 

Denker has been very good with his legs so far, but his arm has been a completely different story. He's attempted 90 passes, and completed 50 percent of them with an average of fewer than five yards per attempt. He has the same amount of interceptions (two) as passing touchdowns. 

MORE: Lane Kiffin's Legacy At USC

Arizona, like Boston College, has a star running back though in Ka'Deem Carey. Carey has 431 rushing yards and five touchdowns, and is averaging almost six yards per carry. However, with only six catches and Denker as his quarterback, Carey isn't that much of a threat in the passing game. 

Carey only rushed for 4.3 yards per carry in Arizona's 39-36 win over USC last season, and that was with another dual-threat quarterback in Matt Scott. Yet, Scott could actually throw the football, as he accumulated 369 yards passing. That team also came back from a 15-point deficit, something that I don't think this current Arizona team can do. 

Arizona's defense is allowing 14.3 points per game, which is good for ninth-best in the nation. Remember though, three of their four games were against lackluster opponents. However, the Wildcat defense will have a much easier time if USC wide receiver Marqise Lee doesn't play. Lee is questionable for Thursday night after suffering a knee injury against Arizona State. 

While Lee burned Arizona's secondary for 345 receiving yards last season, he only has 385 yards in five games this season. This is a running football team, and it will show on Thursday. Expect stud running backs Tre Madden and Justin Davis to have at least 40 carries between them. Silas Redd is also making his season debut this game, only furthering the Trojans' depth at running back. 

USC's defense is underrated coming into this game, and that's because of one very poor game against Arizona State. The Trojans were simply unprepared for Taylor Kelly and Arizona State's passing attack, and gave up a plethora of big plays to the Sun Devil offense. Morgan Breslin, who is leading the team with 7.5 tackles for loss, is also questionable for the game.

Yet, this is still a defense that is tops in the Pac-12 in rush defense (99.6 yards allowed per game) and 14th-best in the country in total defense (306.8 yards per game). The Trojans will stack the box against Carey, and Arizona will have trouble moving the ball in this game. 

USC has won 28 of 36 games in this series thus far, and I think the crowd will be electric in Coach Ed Orgeron's first game. The Trojans have only covered the spread in two of their last 10 games, but those two were both at home. USC should get their first Pac-12 win on the season, and should also rejuvenate their fan base at the same time with a big victory on Thursday night. 

Final Score Prediction: USC 28, Arizona 13

My Best Bet: USC -6.5




Reach Senior Sports Editor Max Meyer by email.

Follow @TheMaxMeyer




Craig Gillespie directed this true story about "the most daring rescue mission in the history of the U.S. Coast Guard.”

Watch USC Annenberg Media's live State of the Union recap and analysis here.