I’m not sure what governing body sanctioned this fight, but the heavyweight USC Trojans strut into Mountain America Stadium to tangle with the featherweight Arizona State Sun Devils this evening.
Looking at the college football odds, the Trojans are prohibitive five-touchdown favorites on the road in Week 4. These two programs are in separate realms right now, and the Sun Devils will be hard-pressed simply to keep things competitive.
Will Lincoln Riley, Caleb Williams, and the Trojans roll on for a fourth-consecutive blowout victory in 2023? Read my college football picks for USC vs. Arizona State on Saturday, September 23 below to find out.
USC vs Arizona State best odds
USC vs Arizona State and predictions
Where to begin with this Arizona State Sun Devils team? First-year head coach Kenny Dillingham completely revamped the roster this offseason, bringing in a record 50 new scholarship players to the roster. His plan never really got started before the season was derailed by injuries.
Consensus four-star true freshman Jaden Rashada was named the starting quarterback before Week 1 but has since been knocked out with an injury that's expected to keep him sidelined for a few weeks — and rumor has it he may not be back at all before the season ends.
Notre Dame transfer Drew Pyne, who injured his hamstring in Fall camp, returned to the field last week only to look utterly lost before getting hurt again. Quarterback Trenton Bourguet, an experienced option who started last week against Fresno State, injured his leg in the first quarter and is considered doubtful against the USC Trojans, against whom Pyne is expected to return.
The offensive line is dealing with injuries to six of its top nine players. That’s a massive concern for any team, but especially one with little depth due to the roster overhaul and mismanagement by the previous regime. Starting tight end Jalin Conyers and RB2 DeCarlos Brooks were absent against the Bulldogs, although Dillingham has confirmed that Conyers is expected back this week.
Things should go from bad to worse for Arizona State’s offense considering the sheer amount of injuries in addition to being at a severe talent disadvantage against USC.
The Sun Devils average just 13 points per game and rank 120th in EPA per play and 122nd in success rate, and will likely struggle against an improved USC defense checking in at 35th in EPA per play and 31st in success rate.
You already know what USC is going to do when it has the ball — score, over and over again. Heisman Trophy winner Caleb Williams leads an offense currently ranking first in EPA per play for the second straight season and the skill positions are arguably even more loaded than in 2022.
The Trojans are averaging 59.3 PPG and have been consistently waltzing to the end zone, scoring no less than 56 points in each of their first three games.
This is an offensive juggernaut with an improved defense, is well rested after a bye week, and will be motivated considering it can't afford a slip-up if it wants to make it to the College Football Playoff.
The Sun Devils, meanwhile, are lousy even when healthy offensively, are dealing with an unprecedented run of bad injury luck, have no motivation to win games given the bowl ban in place this season, and will finish in the cellar of the Pac-12 standings.
This is a squash match. I expect to see the Trojans continue to dominate their laughably soft early-season schedule with another blowout win. The books have started to adjust ASU’s numbers after a horrific 0-3 ATS start to the year in which it hasn’t been close to covering in all three games — but the adjustment is not enough.
My best bet: USC -34.5 (-110 at Caesars)
Picks made at time of writing may not reflect live odds.
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USC vs Arizona State same-game parlay
Arizona State’s defense has performed decently well to start the season, surrendering just 25.7 PPG. That being said, there aren’t exactly any comparisons to the USC offense around the college football world — the Trojans are a different beast entirely.
I don’t see Caleb Williams, Marshawn Lloyd, Dorian Singer, Tahj Washington, Zachariah Branch & Co. being slowed down any time soon.
With that being the case, this two-leg SGP features my best bet on USC against the spread combined with Over 62.5 for the full game. The Trojans average nearly 60 PPG as the nation’s best offense and should have the ball plenty in this matchup, so expect another fireworks show.
It’s a weekly expectation at this point, as it should be with Lincoln Riley and Williams together.
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USC vs Arizona State spread and Over/Under analysis
Looking at college football line movement, USC moved from -30.5 at open to -34.5 at current. Some books have moved to a flat 35, so it wouldn’t be surprising if the spread hovers around that key number and fluctuates throughout the week. The total is set between 61.5 and 62.5 depending on the book.
Arizona State is 0-3 ATS and 0-3 O/U so far this year, while USC is 2-1 ATS and 2-1 O/U. That only begins to explain the differences between these two programs.
News out of practice this week was that Kenny Dillingham has taken over control of the offense from coordinator Beau Baldwin. Desperate times call for desperate measures, although it’s probably too late considering the fact that seemingly half of the offensive two-deep will be banged up or unavailable.
Still, having Dillingham as the play-caller can likely only be a good thing considering he helmed Oregon's offensive outburst a year ago when they averaged 38.8 PPG and scored 40+ in eight straight games.
The Sun Devils have given fans little to be excited about offensively. A week ago, Pyne completed just 5 of 13 attempts for 52 yards while tossing two interceptions. If he’s at less than 100% behind a banged-up offensive line, things could get ugly in a hurry yet again in Week 4.
It’s hard to have confidence in the Sun Devils right now to do anything — score points, stay in the game, or make it to the finish line unhampered. That’s why I have more confidence in the side than in the total.
USC vs Arizona State betting trend to know
Arizona State is 0-3 ATS this season with an average cover margin of -22 points. Find more college football betting trends for USC vs Arizona State.
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USC vs Arizona State game info
|Location:||Mountain America Stadium, Tempe, AZ|
|Date:||Saturday, September 23, 2023|
|Kickoff:||10:30 p.m. ET|
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