Stanford vs USC Odds, Picks, and Predictions: Soft Defense Makes USC Cover Unlikely

Despite exceeding expectations in Week 1, Stanford is getting more than four touchdowns on the spread against Caleb Williams & Co. Are the Cardinal up for the challenge? Read our college football betting picks below to find out.

JD Yonke - Contributor at
JD Yonke • Contributor
Sep 9, 2023 • 18:57 ET • 4 min read
Benjamin Yurosek Stanford Cardinal Pac-12 college football
Photo By - USA TODAY Sports

Lincoln Riley and the USC Trojans have an offense like no other in college football, and they’ll look to stay rolling with a home game against the Stanford Cardinal in Week 2.

Looking at the college football odds, the Trojans are expected to cruise by at least four touchdowns. 

There weren’t many expectations for Troy Taylor in Year 1 at Stanford, but his team did look impressive in Week 1 and therefore brings this inflated line into question more than one would’ve thought before the season.

Does the Cardinal have what it takes to perform above expectations for the second straight week? Stay tuned for my answer to that question and more in my best bet and college football betting picks for Stanford vs. USC below.

Stanford vs USC best odds

Stanford vs USC picks and predictions

I’m going to need to plug my nose before placing this wager, but there’s a bit of value on the huge underdog in this Week 2 matchup. 

I was impressed with what I saw from Troy Taylor’s team in Week 1. It was a successful debut in which the Stanford Cardinal rattled off a 37-24 victory over Hawaii and looked much better than anticipated on both sides of the ball. 

Stanford debuted a new-look up-tempo offense last week that moved the ball effectively against Hawaii. Ashton Daniels got the surprising start at quarterback and quickly found a new favorite target in Benjamin Yurosek — the 6-foot-4, 242-pound tight end reeled in nine passes for 138 yards and a score. They got the ball out quickly to compensate for a very green offensive line and it was a masterful game plan to maximize the available talent. 

The defense, meanwhile, limited Hawaii to just a 36% rate. Considering Hawaii managed 6.5 yards per play in its Week 0 game against Vanderbilt, I thought Stanford’s defense played just fine when limiting the Rainbow Warriors to 5.1 yards per play. The game was never in doubt as Stanford finished with a 99% win expectancy. 

I believe there’s evidence that the market was too low on Taylor coming into the season and may still be lagging behind a bit. The Cardinal were undervalued last week and the market was against them, moving Hawaii down to +2.5 in a move that was totally wrong as Stanford won comfortably. 

Taylor’s not the most well-known coach coming over from the FCS level at Sacramento State, but he is an extremely bright offensive mind who'll be able to scheme up ways to put his offense in advantageous situations against a USC defense that finished 122nd in EPA per play a year ago and has already shown cracks this season.

Mobile quarterback Chevan Cordeiro was able to move the chains using his legs when SJSU faced USC in Week 0 and Daniels possesses a similar ability to take what the defense gives him. The line for that game was eerily similar as SJSU was +31 but made it a one-score game at the half despite being down its two best pass catchers.

USC may have a very impressive offense, but this is simply a huge line for a conference game. The Trojans have only won by 30+ points twice over the last two seasons and those came against Rice and Nevada.

While the Cardinal won’t be good this season, they’ve already looked good enough early on to make me believe they won’t be among the country’s worst teams as anticipated and would comfortably beat that Nevada team by multiple scores. 

I'm plugging my nose and playing the Cardinal.

My best bet: Standford +29.5 (-110 at FanDuel)

Stanford vs USC same-game parlay

Stanford +29.5 (-110)

Stanford TT Over 19.5 points (-128)

Caleb Williams anytime TD (-110)

This SGP is a three-legger centered around my best bet on Stanford plus the points with this inflated spread. If the Cardinal are to keep things within reason, it’s likely that they exceed their team total of 19.5 — you’re going to need to score some points to keep up with the juggernaut that is this USC offense.

The Trojans return Heisman Trophy winner Caleb Williams on offense and are averaging 61 points per game across the first two weeks of the season. They should find the end zone early and often yet again like they do most weeks, and Taylor’s up-tempo scheme will need to generate some looks in order to cover the spread.

The last leg I’ll add is Williams to find the end zone at -110. The touchdown scorer props seem way off to me as there are three receivers listed at -230 or higher to find the end zone, while the reigning Heisman winner who rushed for 10 scores a year ago is all the way down at -110 to use his legs to find a touchdown. 

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Stanford vs USC spread and Over/Under analysis

There’s been some fluctuation in the market as USC opened -31.5 but the line has since moved down a few ticks. Be sure to shop around as the line currently ranges from -28.5 to -29.5 depending on where you look.

There’s also been some downward movement on the total, which opened at 71 but has since moved to 69.5 at most books. 

USC has been an Over machine, going 10-0 O/U across its last 10 games. Williams is the best quarterback in the country and is the heavy favorite to go No. 1 overall in the NFL Draft. He has an embarrassment of riches around him as Arizona transfer Dorian Singer joins Tahj Washington, Zachariah Branch, Mario Williams, and Brenden Rice at receiver. 

South Carolina transfer Marshawn Lloyd could be in for a huge season at running back and looked like the complete package last week when he ran seven times for 76 yards and a touchdown while adding two receptions for 59 yards. 

Part of my reason for playing Stanford against the spread and for thinking we could see points in this matchup is that Taylor is a very bright offensive mind and gives his team a coaching advantage over Trojans defensive coordinator Alex Grinch. The talent gap is still huge, but the Trojans have played so poorly on defense that I’ll need to see big-time improvement before I believe in this staff. 

The Cardinal have at least two offensive NFL players in running back E.J. Smith and Yurosek, the tight end. USC was missing its top three linebackers a week ago and while they may all return for this matchup, it’s fair to question if they’ll be at 100%.

Stanford made it a point to get the ball out as quickly as possible in the passing game and that’s a wise move to tire out this Trojans defense and keep the pass rush from getting home. Taylor knows what he’s doing. 

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Stanford vs USC betting trend to know

Stanford is 6-3 against the spread in its last nine meetings with USC. Find more college football betting trends for Stanford vs USC.

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Stanford vs USC game info

Location: Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum, Los Angeles, CA
Date: Saturday, September 9, 2023
Kickoff: 10:30 p.m. ET

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