Las Vegas sportsbooks have the sixth-ranked USC Trojans (5-0, 3-0 in the Pac-12) as 13-point favorites as they host the Washington State Cougars (4-1, 1-1) on Saturday at 7:30 p.m. at the Coliseum.
The Trojans are undefeated on the scoreboards, but they're just 3-2 against the spread on the betting boards as they're coming off a 42-25 win against Arizona State in which they failed to cover as 24½-point favorites, and that followed a 17-14 win at Oregon State when they were 5½-point faves.
First-year coach Lincoln Riley's offense is averaging 42.2 points with the Oregon State game the only one in which quarterback Caleb Williams & Co. didn't score at least 40 points. On paper, the Trojans should be able to win this game and continue their march toward the Pac-12 championship game, but the problem with laying this many points is that while USC will probably be up by two touchdowns at some point, will they be able to hold on for the cover?
The Cougars' strength is their defensive line, which can apply pressure to Williams, plus it'll be hard for USC to run the ball.
Still, this line opened at USC -10 and -10½ at a couple of Las Vegas books and early bettors were deterred from laying the points to push it to the current line (as of Thursday morning) of the Trojans -13. At that line, 59% of the bets are still on the USC at DraftKings while 52% of the money is on Washington State. For the most up-to-date betting trends, see VSiN's CFB betting splits page.
It's not always easy to handicap turnovers in a football game (as they can be random with the bounce of the football), but the Cougars have turned the ball over at least twice in each of their five games, and the Trojans D has shown the ability to get takeaways with four in the Oregon State game that were the key in their toughest test so far. If those trends continue, that would be the key to USC's win and cover.
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This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.