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No. 10 Stanford Hosts No. 17 USC in California Rivalry Game

One of the best rivalries in college football plays out for the 98th time this Saturday at Stanford. The Trojans and the Cardinal have essentially split games since the turn of the millennium, with USC on a current two-game winning streak, including the Pac-12 championship game last season in Santa Clara. The Cardinal opened as a 5-point favorite but as of Monday morning, the spread was 3.5 for the home team. On Friday, the spread has moved back to 6.0 as money pours in on this game. Rivalry aside, this is a huge matchup in the Pac-12 that will undoubtedly set the tone for 2018.

SHARK BITES
  • The total has gone OVER in four of USC’s last five games against Stanford with an average combined score of 59.4.
  • Stanford is 9-0 SU in its last nine games at home with an average winning margin of 17.89.
  • USC is 3-14 ATS in its last 17 games on the road in September.

USC vs Stanford Game Center

Daniels Impressive in his Debut

True freshman JT Daniels impressed in his first outing for USC in the transition year from Sam Darnold. The unknown at pivot coming into the season is part of the reason that USC is ranked a little lower than usual by Pac-12 pundits and likely part of the story of why they are underdogs coming into Week 2. How do you help a true freshman transition from high school? One good option is to bring along his favorite receiver.

Amon-Ra St. Brown caught seven passes for 98 yards including a TD in his NCAA debut vs UNLV. Daniels was clearly comfortable dealing with his high school classmate in his debut and Brown was pretty darn good himself. The question will be can they sustain the same pinpoint precision against a more tenacious Stanford defense.

Taking a Stand at Stanford Stadium

The Cardinal have won nine consecutive home games with an average winning margin of 17.89 on their home turf. Of course, none of those games was vs USC, but they did take down Washington, Notre Dame, Oregon and Arizona State, among others, during this nine-game stretch.

The latest home victory came in Week 1 vs San Diego State but it wasn’t Heisman candidate Bryce Love stealing the show in this game – he ran for just 29 yards. Instead, K.J. Costello used his deep game to march the Cardinal down the field repeatedly in the second half. JJ Arcega-Whiteside made six catches for 226 yards (not a typo) and three touchdowns. Arcega-Whiteside made at least three catches with defenders draped all over him. It was like he had a magnet in his receiving gloves. If he can repeat that against USC in Week 2, the Cardinal have a great shot at extending their home win streak.

Useless Trend or Game Planning Deficiency?

USC is a disgusting 3-14 ATS in its last 17 September road games. While that’s very specific data, it may point to an early-season issue in terms of how the team prepares for its opposition or doesn’t live up to early-season oddsmaker predictions.

The Trojans don’t have a lot of points to work with, just +5.5 as of Wednesday, and could be in danger of not covering the spread on the road again in September. Definitely shop around at different books to see if you can find anything better on either side of the line as the week progresses and we will be sure to keep this article updated throughout the week.

I’m on Stanford early in this matchup, but there’s not a lot to pick from here, especially early in the season. This is a matchup where keeping an eye on developments around both teams through the week could be key to picking the winner.

Totals Information

The points total for this game opened at 53.5 and currently sits at 56.5 with just 72 hours to kickoff. Lately, these teams have been cashing on the OVER - the total has gone OVER in four of the last five games of this matchup with an average combined score of 59.4.

On the other hand, the total has gone UNDER in six of USC's last eight road games with an average score of 56.0 and the total has also gone UNDER in six of Stanford's last eight games vs Pac-12 opponents with an average combined score of 46.6. 

The OVER hit in Week 1 for USC but the total went UNDER for Stanford. Looking at the data presented and the fact that even the OVER games had relatively low totals, I would be comfortable picking the UNDER in this game. However, I will be waiting to get closer to game time to see if the totals line continues to creep higher.