The Stanford Cardinal beat the USC Trojans three times in a row, but Southern Cal snapped that skid with a convincing victory over Stanford earlier this season. The Trojans shoot for a repeat of that performance when they take on the Cardinal in the Pac-12 championship game Friday night at Levi's Stadium.
College football point spread: The Trojans opened as three-point favorites, according to sportsbooks monitored by OddsShark. (Line updates and matchup report)
College football betting pick, via OddsShark computer: 36.0-29.4 Trojans (College football picks on every game)
Why the Stanford Cardinal can cover the spread
The Cardinal finished their regular season with three-game winning streak, capped off by a 38-20 decision over Notre Dame last week. Stanford spotted the Irish the game's first touchdown and trailed 20-17 into the fourth quarter. But the Cardinal exploded for three touchdowns in three and a half minutes and cruised from there.
On the night, Stanford got outgained by Notre Dame 415-328 but won the turnover battle 3-0, basically resulting in a plus-17 points differential.
The victory, combined with Washington's win in the Apple Cup, sent Stanford to this Pac-12 championship game for the fourth time in the last six seasons.
The Cardinal are now 5-1 this season in games; freshman KJ Costello has taken the majority of the snaps at quarterback.
Why the USC Trojans can cover the spread
The Trojans finished their regular season with a four-game winning streak, capped off by a 28-23 decision over UCLA two weeks ago. Then they enjoyed last week off.
Southern Cal took an early 7-0 lead on the Bruins on a 72-yard trick-play punt return for a score and pushed its advantage to 28-17 midway through the fourth quarter. But the Trojans gave up a late UCLA score and missed out on the cash as 14-point favorites.
USC played that game for pride, already having clinched a spot in this Pac-12 championship game.
As crazy as it might sound, the Trojans still harbor faint hopes of making the College Football Playoff. USC would certainly need a convincing victory over Stanford and a bunch of help from elsewhere, but the way this college football season is playing out, it seems almost anything could happen.
Southern Cal basically dominated Stanford earlier this season, winning 42-24, outgaining the Cardinal 623-342, covering as a three-point favorite. Friday's game will be closer, but the Trojans are still the smart bet.
College football betting trends
Stanford is 3-1 SU and ATS in its last four games against USC.
The total has gone over in three of Stanford's last four games against USC.
USC is 2-6 ATS in its last eight games after a win.
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.