USC Trojans vs. California Golden Bears: Odds, College Football Betting Pick ColumnistSeptember 19, 2017

Southern California quarterback Sam Darnold throws during the first half of an NCAA college football game against Texas, Saturday, Sept. 16, 2017, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)
Mark J. Terrill/Associated Press

The Southern Cal Trojans own the recent rivalry with the California Golden Bears, winning the last 13 meetings in a row and going 7-1 against the spread over the last eight. Coming off a scare last week against Texas, the Trojans now hit the Pac-12 road for a bout with the Golden Bears on Saturday afternoon in Berkeley.

College football point spread: The Trojans opened as 16-point favorites, according to sportsbooks monitored by OddsShark (line updates and matchup report).

College football betting pick, via OddsShark computer: 49.8-23.8 Trojans  (College football picks on every game).

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Why the USC Trojans can cover the spread

USC extended its winning streak to 12 games, which includes an 8-4 run against the spread, with a 27-24 double-overtime victory over a game Texas team last Saturday. The Trojans trailed 17-14 with less than a minute to go but drove 52 yards to a game-tying field goal at the buzzer. USC then won it with a strip/fumble recovery in the top of the second overtime and another Chase McGrath field goal.

On the evening, the Trojans outgained the Longhorns 468-366, won the turnover battle 4-2 and held a 33/27 advantage in time of possession. Quarterback Sam Darnold threw for 397 yards and four touchdowns, connecting with wide receiver Deontay Burnett eight times for 123 and two scores. Burnett has now caught at least 120 yards worth of balls each game this season.

Meanwhile, the USC defense limited Texas to 68 yards on the ground and a four-for-16 performance on third downs. In fact, the Trojans only allowed one Longhorns offensive touchdown through regulation, and that came with 45 seconds to go. Southern Cal has now outgained each of its three opponents this season by an average of 182 yards.

Why the California Golden Bears can cover the spread

Cal is also off to a 3-0 start to this season, and 2-1 ATS, after pulling a short upset on Ole Miss Saturday 27-16. The Bears trailed the Rebels at the half 16-7, but won the second half 20-0, icing the game with a pick-six with three minutes to go, winning outright as seven-point home dogs.

On the night, Cal outrushed Ole Miss 163-53 and won time of possession by a 33/27 margin. In fact, after giving up a couple of big plays early, the Bears defense threw a shutout for the last 47 minutes of the game.

Cal is proving to be a pretty good second-half team; it's trailed at halftime of each of its first three games, then won the second halves by a combined score of 57-13. The Bears already own a pair of outright upsets this season; they opened with a 35-30 win at North Carolina as 13-point dogs.


Smart pick

Cal is off to a nice start, but USC owns key advantages at quarterback and on defense. Plus, playing on the road means the spread isn't as steep as it might be. The smart money here at online betting sites takes the Trojans.


College football betting trends

Southern Cal is 7-1 ATS in its last eight games against California.

The total has gone under in 11 of Southern Cal's last 13 games against California.

California is 1-4 ATS in its last five games after winning as an underdog.


All college football odds and betting trends courtesy of Bleacher Report’s official odds partner, OddsShark. All quotes gathered firsthand unless otherwise noted. Check out Twitter for injury and line-movement updates and the OddsShark YouTube page for picks and analysis, or download the free odds tracker app.