USC vs Washington State Picks and Predictions: Trojan Horse in Pullman

USC fired its head coach, Clay Helton, after just two weeks as the coaching carousel spins once again in Southern California. Find out in our picks whether more Trojans dysfunction makes us want to fade them against the home Washington State Cougars.

Last Updated: Sep 15, 2021 1:55 PM ET Read Time: 4 min
Kedon Slovis USC Trojans college football
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The USC Trojans look to move past the Clay Helton era with a victory as they travel to Pullman to take on the Washington State Cougars. 

All eyes will be on the USC coaching search after the firing of Helton, who was 46-24 with the school but couldn’t live up to the program’s expectations. The final straw was an embarrassing defeat to Stanford, leading to a coaching change only two weeks into the season.

Will the Trojans be up to the task despite all the distractions?

Check out our picks and predictions for USC vs. Washington State on Saturday, September 18 to find out.

USC vs Washington State odds

Odds via the Covers Line, an average comprised of odds from multiple sportsbooks.

The line opened USC -9.5 but has moved down to -8.5 after the Helton news. Use the live odds widget above to track any future line movements right up until kickoff and be sure to check out the full college football odds before placing your bets.

USC vs Washington State picks

Picks made on 9/15/2021 at 11:20 a.m. ET.
Click on each pick to jump to the full analysis.

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USC vs Washington State game info

Location: Martin Stadium, Pullman, WA
Date: Saturday, September 18, 2021
Time: 3:30 p.m. ET
TV: FOX

USC vs Washington State betting preview

Weather

Be sure to monitor the gametime conditions with our NCAA football weather info.

Key injuries

USC: Drake London WR (Questionable), Adonis Otey CB (Questionable), Korey Foreman DL (Questionable), Josh Falo TE (Questionable), Kenan Christon RB (Questionable), Nick Figueroa DL (Questionable), Bru McCoy WR (Doubtful).
Washington State: Jarrett Guarantano QB (Questionable), Chris Jackson WR (Questionable), Jaylen Watson DB (Questionable), Renard Bell WR (Out).
Find our latest NCAA football injury reports.

Betting trend to know

The road team is 6-2 ATS in the last eight meetings between these two teams. Find more NCAA betting trends for USC vs. Washington State.

USC vs Washington State predictions

Taking the Trojans the same week that they fired their coach? Must be crazy, right?

I think it would also be crazy to consider taking Washington State with any confidence right now after a tumultuous offseason and an underwhelming start to the season. First, it lost straight up at home as a 17.5-point favorite against Utah State. Then, the Cougs failed to cover the spread as 31-point favorites in a 44-24 win over Portland State in which they allowed 420 total yards to the FCS school.

Both teams have been in the headlines for the wrong reasons. For the Trojans, it’s been their perplexing mediocrity under Helton and now the endless talk of their ensuing coaching search. 

For the Cougars, it’s been head coach Nick Rolovich’s vaccination status and quarterback Jayden de Laura’s offseason suspension for a DUI. Things were dire enough that the team turned to much-maligned Tennessee transfer Jarrett Guarantano as the starting quarterback before he left the quarterback due to injury.

All said, we have two untrustworthy programs from a betting standpoint, so we’ll look to the more talented team: the Trojans. They’ve been underwhelming under Helton for a few seasons now, so it’s difficult to imagine a dramatic drop-off now that he’s been fired. They still have a dangerous offense led by quarterback Kedon Slovis and wide receiver Drake London and should exploit this beatable Washington State defense.

The road team has been dominant in this series as of late, covering in six of the last eight matchups. We’re expecting that to continue here.

Washington State’s defense is in bad shape, having given up 430.5 total yards of offense over its first two games. Keep in mind that those two contests came against an FCS team and a 1-5 Mountain West team that scored only 15.5 points per game a season ago — hardly elite competition.

The Trojans may not be elite, but they are certainly dangerous. They’re averaging 412 yards of offense per game and will look to the wide receiver trio of London, Tahj Washington, and Gary Bryant Jr. to exploit a defense allowing nearly 300 passing yards per game. 

The Cougars should be able to move the ball offensively as well, led by star running back Max Borghi and dangerous after-the-catch receiver Travell Harris. This is a USC defense that was bullied around by Stanford, so it’s not as if it poses the most intimidating threat. 

We’re taking the Over.

NCAA parlays

Did you know that if you parlayed our USC vs. Washington State picks, you could win $25.69 on a $10 bet?

Use our college football parlay calculator to create your own parlays and see their potential payouts.

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