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Stanford at USC: What bettors need to know

Stanford Cardinal at USC Trojans (+3.5, 46)

Ten days after spoiling Oregon’s national title hopes, Stanford looks to avoid a letdown on Saturday when the fifth-ranked Cardinal visit USC to face the much-improved Trojans. Stanford has won three straight following a loss at Utah, while USC improved to 4-1 under interim coach Ed Orgeron with a 62-28 rout of California last Saturday. “We handled our business, and Stanford is coming off a big win,” Trojans safety Su’a Cravens said. “We've got momentum rolling. It’s going to be a great game.”

The Trojans have lost four straight to Stanford, who moved atop over the Pac-12 North Division by using a power run game to upset Oregon. The Cardinal should receive a test from USC, which boasts the Pac-12’s second-ranked run defense and features one of the nation’s top kick returners in Nelson Agholor, who had two of USC’s three punt returns for touchdowns against California. If the game is close, USC will need a bounce-back effort from kicker Andre Heidari, who missed a field goal and an extra point in last week’s win.

TV: 8 p.m. ET, ABC. LINE: Stanford -3.5

ABOUT STANFORD (8-1, 6-1 Pac-12): The Cardinal is ranked No. 4 in the BCS standings, but they’ll need help to land a spot in the national championship game. They certainly appeared worthy in their win over previously unbeaten Oregon, with the offensive line dominating the line of scrimmage and Tyler Gaffney rushing for 157 yards on 45 carries. Coach David Shaw indicated the offense will be more diversified against the Trojans, which could result in more opportunities for quarterback Kevin Hogan, who is 13-1 as a starter.

ABOUT USC (7-3, 4-2):
Tailback Silas Redd is questionable after suffering a knee injury last week, so the Trojans will likely lean on Javorius Allen against Stanford, which leads the Pac-12 in run defense. Quarterback Cody Kessler has improved since Orgeron took over on Sept. 29, and he’s completed 82 percent of his passes over the last two games. The Trojans rank tied for third nationally in red zone defense, and they’re hoping to have defensive end Leonard Williams (team-high 11 tackles-for-loss) available after he missed last week’s contest with a shoulder injury.

TRENDS:


* Underdog is 5-1 ATS in their last six meetings.
* Cardinal are 6-1 ATS in their last seven games in November.
* Trojans are 4-0 ATS in their last four conference games.
* Under is 9-3 in Trojans last 12 games overall.

EXTRA POINTS:

1. Stanford has won 31 of its last 32 games played in the state of California.

2. USC has allowed a total of 17 points in the first quarter this season.

3. Stanford has gone 5-1 while averaging 36 points over the last six meetings with USC.

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