Both the USC Trojans and Stanford Cardinal are coming off impressive season-opening wins, but each will face a serious test in an early Pac-12 battle that could go a long way in determining who eventually wins the conference title.
Even though the Oregon Ducks and UCLA Bruins were preseason favorites to win their respective divisions, USC and Stanford are also right in the mix, making this matchup even more important early on.
Point spread: The Cardinal opened as four-point favorites; the total was 55 at Stanford Stadium, according to sportsbooks monitored by Odds Shark. (Line updates and matchup report)
Odds Shark computer prediction: 27.1-23.5 Cardinal
Why the Southern Cal Trojans can cover the spread
The Trojans could not have looked much better than they did in a 52-13 rout of Fresno State last week, with quarterback Cody Kessler completing 25-of-37 passes for 394 yards and four touchdowns and running back Javorius Allen rushing for 133 yards on 22 carries with one score.
That offensive balance is exactly what new head coach Steve Sarkisian was hoping for, and his defense also played very well with four interceptions. All this in the aftermath of USC cornerback Josh Shaw’s indefinite suspension for lying about rescuing his nephew, showing the team was able to rally round the controversy and show team unity together on the football field.
That’s a great sign for Sarkisian, whose Trojans have now covered the spread in six of their last eight games dating back to last season with a 7-1 straight-up mark during that stretch.
Why the Stanford Cardinal can cover the spread
The Cardinal routed UC-Davis 45-0 in its season opener. It may not have played the same level of competition as USC, but Stanford still turned in an outstanding all-around effort.
Stanford led 38-0 at halftime with QB Kevin Hogan throwing for 204 yards in the first two quarters while RBs Kelsey Young and Barry Sanders Jr. combined for 80 rushing yards on 14 carries.
The Cardinal enter this game against the Trojans with a lot of confidence against them, knowing Stanford has won four of the last five meetings SU with a 5-2 ATS record in their past seven matchups. Stanford is also 18-1 SU in its last 19 home games and will be out for revenge after losing at USC 20-17 as a 3.5-point favorite last year.
The Cardinal finished a perfect 7-0 SU at home last season, including big wins against UCLA (24-10) and Oregon (26-20).
Bettors will find out just how good these Pac-12 teams are when they face each other, as both were able to rest starters last week to get ready for this showdown in Palo Alto.
The Trojans have won four of the last six meetings there with only one bad game in their past eight overall, including that home victory last season vs. Stanford. Kessler is the better QB of the two and played like it in winning last year, throwing for 288 yards and one touchdown.
Hogan struggled with 127 yards and two interceptions, and former RB Tyler Gaffney (158 yards and two TDs) was the only reason Stanford was able to hang in there. With Gaffney gone, the Cardinal’s inexperience in the offensive backfield will be a concern and show in a rare home loss.
- Stanford is 18-1 SU in its last 19 games at home.
- Southern Cal is 3-10 ATS in its last 13 games on the road.
Note: All point spread and lines data courtesy of Odds Shark, all quotes gathered first-hand unless otherwise noted. Check out Twitter for injury updates and line move updates and get the free odds tracker app.