Great expectations often lead to something teams and bettors have tough times playing against; inflated point spreads. The USC Trojans may be 5-1 on the season, but they're only 1-5 against the spread. The Trojans will play as double-digit favorites when they host the Utah Utes on Saturday night at the Coliseum in Los Angeles.
College football point spread: The Trojans opened as 11-point favorites, according to sportsbooks monitored by OddsShark (line updates and matchup report).
College football betting pick, via OddsShark computer: 38.0-31.2 Trojans (college football picks on every game)
Why the Utah Utes can cover the spread
Utah just suffered its first loss of this season, a tough 23-20 decision at home to Stanford. The Utes only trailed the Cardinal 16-13 into the fourth quarter but let Stanford running back Bryce Love, whom they had contained for the most part, break loose for a 68-yard touchdown to create a two-score deficit. Utah pulled to within a field goal with just under a minute to go but couldn't recover an onside kick.
On the evening, the Utes were outgained by the Cardinal, but only by a margin of 384-382. They also held a 33/27 time-of-possession advantage. But two Utah turnovers-the only turnovers of the game-and a botched punt proved too costly to overcome.
Still, the Utes managed a push of the spread as three-point home dogs.
Utah started this season 4-0, including a win at what might be a decent Arizona team a couple weeks ago. The Utes are also 4-0-1 ATS, including 2-0 ATS on the road.
Why the USC Trojans can cover the spread
Southern Cal recovered from that loss at Washington State two weeks ago to beat Oregon State last week 38-10. The Trojans scored touchdowns on their first two drives of the day, led 21-3 at the half and eased home from there. But they didn't put enough energy into covering the spread as 33-point favorites.
On the afternoon USC outgained the Beavers 512-319 and won the ground battle 184-122. And yet it was a performance that left something to be desired.
Quarterback Sam Darnold gets most of the ink, and he's coming off probably his best performance of the season, throwing for 316 yards and three touchdowns. But the Trojans have also outrushed each of their last five opponents.
USC has outrushed each of its four Pac-12 opponents this season, while Utah has been outrushed in its two Pac-12 games. Also, the Utes are playing without their starting quarterback. The Trojans aren't blowing teams out, but they're probably the smarter wagering choice in this spot at online betting sites.
College football betting trends
Utah is 0-3 SU and ATS in its last three games on the road against USC.
The total has gone under in seven of USC's last 10 games at home.
USC is 0-4 ATS in its last four games.
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.