2017 Heart of Dallas Bowl Betting Preview: Utah vs. West Virginia

USC at Utah Expert Pick & Prediction

Written by on September 20, 2016

Southern Cal is the defending Pac-12 South Division champion but the Trojans will have just about no chance of returning to the conference title game if they lose a second straight Pac-12 game on Friday night at No. 24 Utah. And the Utes are slight favorites in college football betting.

How To Bet on the USC at Utah Expert Pick, Prediction & TV Info

When: Friday, Sept. 23, 9 PM ET
Where: Rice-Eccles Stadium, Salt Lake City
TV: Fox Sports 1
Opening NCAA Football Lines: Utah -2 (47)

Why Bet on USC?

Southern Cal (1-2, 0-1 Pac-12) was pounded by No. 7 Stanford 27-10 last week. The Cardinal have now won seven of nine against the Trojans, the best nine-game stretch for the Cardinal in the history of a rivalry that covers 96 games and 111 years. Stanford has also beaten USC three times within the last calendar year. Already trailing by 17 points with 14:06 remaining, USC coach Clay Helton chose to run Ronald Jones on fourth-and- 1 rather than kick a 35-yard field goal that would have pulled USC within two scores.

“I was surprised, but I guess the coaches thought that was best,” running back Justin Davis said. “Did we want to go for it? Of course. We don’t like having to put the ball in Stanford’s hands because we’re not going to get it back. We were disappointed, but I still have my trust in the coaches.”

Not only are the Trojans off to their first 1-2 start in 15 years, their losses against Alabama and Stanford have come by a combined score of 79-17. Stanford gashed USC for 295 yards rushing. Offensively, USC, converted only 4-of- 12 third downs and was penalized 6 times for false starts, while on defense USC needs to get off the field quicker and eliminate breakdowns that led to big plays. Stanford had the ball 34:14 and got 404 total yards, including a pair of 56-yard TDs.

This is only USC’s fifth trip ever to Salt Lake City and just the third since 1917. It’s just the sixth time that Troy has played a Friday game since 1990 (the Trojans have won the past 5). USC holds a 10-4 record over Utah, including 2-2 in Salt Lake City.

Last year in the Coliseum, true freshman linebacker Cameron Smith had 3 interceptions, including a 54-yard scoring runback late in the first half to break open the game, and USC rushed for 4 touchdowns as the Trojans defeated unbeaten No. 3 Utah, 42-24. It was the first time an AP unranked USC team beat an AP Top-3 team since 1975 and the first time any USC team beat an AP Top-3 team since the 2007 Rose Bowl when the No. 8 Trojans beat No. 3 Michigan.

Why Bet on Utah?

The Utes (3-0) are off a 34-17 win over San Jose State. Trailing 10-6 early in the second quarter, Utah reeled off 28 straight points in its road opener and non-conference finale Saturday night. Utah’s offense racked up a season-high 456 yards and mustered five plays over 25 yards (three passing, two rushing). The Utes were opportunistic with 17 points off three SJSU turnovers. Junior quarterback Troy Williams completed 71.4% of his passes (20-of- 28) for 257 yards and one touchdown (1 INT).

Senior receiver Cory Butler-Byrd made a quick impact in his season debut. Butler-Byrd, who was suspended for the first two games for violating team rules, teamed with Williams on a 45-yard pass play just two snaps into Utah’s opening possession. A trio of Utah running backs combined for 248 net rushing yards on 31 carries (8.0 ypc) with all three each running for a touchdown. True freshman Zack Moss made his first career start and rushed for a team-high 95 yards on 12 attempts (7.9 ypc).

Utah had 10 sacks on defense, which is tied for the second-most all-time in a game at Utah. Utah also had 10 sacks against UTEP (1983) and UCLA (2014). Hunter Dimick and Filipo Mokofisi each had two sacks to lead the Utes. Utah is No. 2 in the nation and leads the Pac-12 in total sacks (15) and sacks per game (5.00). Andy Phillips went 2-for- 2 in field goals with two first-quarter field goals (37 and 23 yards). He has made four straight field goals. Phillips kicked four PATs to break the school records for PATs made (141) and attempts (142).

Friday is the ninth-annual blackout game in Rice-Eccles Stadium. Utah is 6-2 in blackout games, beating TCU (2008), Wyoming (2009), Oregon State (2011), Cal (2012), USC (2014) and Oregon State (2015), and losing to TCU (2010) and UCLA (2013).

Utah is 1-4 in Pac-12 openers, losing its first conference game of the season from 2011-14 before beating Oregon last year in Eugene, 62-20.

My Expert Pick

Trojans are 1-4 ATS in their last 5 road games vs. a team with a winning home record.
Trojans are 1-4 ATS in their last 5 games overall.
Trojans are 1-5 ATS in their last 6 conference games.
Home team is 5-0 ATS in their last 5 meetings.
Southern Cal has more talent, but the Trojans aren’t very well-coached. Take Utah and the under in college football betting.