Vegas NCAAF Game Preview & Free Pick: Arizona State vs USC

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Both teams will be looking to put recent losses behind them and secure a bowl birth this week when the Arizona State Sun Devils face the USC Trojans in a Pac-12 showdown in the desert. Kickoff is set for 3:30 EST on Saturday, November 9 at Sun Devil Stadium in Tempe, Arizona. The game will be nationally televised on ABC.

Current odds list Arizona State as 2-point favorites at home. That line has grown slightly after the Sun Devils opened the week as 1-point favorites. The over/under for the game is set at 56 points. Be sure to check out all of this week’s college football betting odds.

Arizona State vs USC Vegas Preview & Game Predictions

Not long ago, the Sun Devils were 5-1 and looked like genuine contenders in the Pac-12 South. But those days are long gone with ASU suffering back-to-back road losses to Utah and UCLA. Those losses have dropped the Sun Devils to 5-3 overall and 2-3 in Pac-12 play, taking them out of the running in the South division. 

Even getting to a bowl game isn’t a sure thing with ASU’s recent slump. Despite playing three of their final four games at home, the Sun Devils still have to play a surging Oregon State team and a top-10 Oregon team before finishing the season with in-state rival Arizona. Given their schedule, the Sun Devils will be eager to halt their losing streak and become bowl eligible as soon as possible, so they’ll be desperate for a win this week.

Of course, the same can be said of USC. The Trojans were fortunate to survive a tricky road game against Colorado a couple of weeks ago before suffering a 32-point home loss to Oregon last week. With USC sitting at 5-4 and no longer in control of their own destiny inside the Pac-12 South, head coach Clay Helton is once again on the hot seat.

After missing out on a bowl game last year, the pressure is on Helton to avoid that fate two years in a row. On paper, the Trojans should be able to manage at least one win against a schedule that includes ASU, Cal, and UCLA. However, he might need to win out to keep his job. Plus, if the Trojans win their final three games and Utah loses a game late in the season, USC could still end up in the Pac-12 Championship Game, so the Trojans will be desperate to get back on track.

USC will also be eager to avenge last year’s loss to Arizona State on their home field. Helton had been 3-0 against the Sun Devils in his career before Herm Edwards and company got the better of him in last year’s 38-35 ASU win. 

Free NCAAF Betting Prediction: Arizona State -2

Honestly, I’m not enamored with either one of these teams right now, so this is a tough pick. That being said, I feel a little safer leaning toward the home side. USC has struggled on the road this year, they’re a little banged up right now, and Helton might be starting to lose the locker room after a lopsided loss at home. In a game like this, that’s enough to take the Sun Devils to cover the 2-point spread.

One of USC’s biggest problems right now is a backfield that’s filled with injuries. Freshman Kenan Christon was the primary ball caller against Oregon while USC also used wide receivers in the backfield. Stephen Carr is getting a little closer to returning, but the USC backfield remains littered with injury questions. In turn, the pressure is all on freshman quarterback Kedon Slovis, who the Trojans are asking to do too much.

Slovis showed early in the season that he’s talented enough to lead the USC offense. But with little support from the running game, he’s been forced to throw the ball over 100 times over the past two games. The Trojans have become too reliant on their freshman quarterback, who has struggled on the road and been sacked 11 times in his last four games. That pressure also led to three interceptions last week against Oregon.

Of course, the Arizona State defense hasn’t been great in recent weeks, giving up close to 30 points per game in conference play. But the Sun Devils have had their moments this year. Despite suffering back-to-back losses, the Sun Devils have forced seven turnovers over their last two games. With USC relying on Slovis too much, that could be one area where the Arizona State defense can have success against the Trojans.

On the other side of the ball, the Sun Devils are also relying a little too much on a freshman quarterback in Jayden Daniels. He hasn’t exactly been helped by a struggling offensive line and a lackluster running game. But Daniels has been able to overcome those issues at times. If nothing else, he’s only thrown two interceptions this season, so his youthful mistakes have been limited.

With two teams that both have flaws, this game could come down to turnovers, which would sway things toward Arizona State. The Sun Devils are also home against a USC team that is 1-3 on the road this year. With no good choice, I’ll take my chances with Arizona State covering the 2-point spread at home.

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