Steve Sarkisian’s USC Trojans are about 10 weeks away from suiting up for the first time, but it’s never too early for the sportsbooks to start weighing in. The Golden Nugget in Las Vegas released some early betting lines for 2014, and let’s just say they have some confidence in the Trojans.
While not all of the games are listed, USC is double-digit favorites in six of nine early lines. That includes Arizona State (by 11) and Notre Dame (by 10), two teams the Trojans play at home in 2014, after faltering against on the road last year.
The Sun Devils do get the Bruins on a Thursday night in Tempe compared to a Saturday night tilt with SC in the Coliseum, but that’s a big 18-point swing in lines, anyway you slice it for a team that hung 62 on USC.
Then again, Justin Davis was literally three-years-old the last time ASU won in the Coliseum.
Of the games listed by the Golden Nugget, USC is only an underdog to Stanford and UCLA, by 3.5 and 4.5 points respectively. Both games are on the road.
The last four contests between USC and Stanford have come down to the final drive, and could have gone to either team. With the game in Week 2, and both teams playing with new defensive coordinators, a de-facto home-team field goal is a spot-on line.As for the USC-UCLA spread, the Trojans are probably less of an underdog than they should be at this point, given how last year’s game turned out at the Coliseum.
What do they spreads even mean? Well of late, USC hasn’t exactly been a gambler’s dream.
The Trojans are 23-30 against the spread since Pete Carroll left, and 62-67 over the last 10 seasons, dating back to the 2004 National Championship team.
There’s a variety of reasons for the ineffectiveness of beating spreads, including the notion that Vegas rarely pits the Trojans an underdog, and generally expects USC to win big.
From 2003 to 2009, USC was favored in all but two games. In 2012, despite faltering by losing five of their last six games, the Trojans were favored in 11 of 13 games.
Last season, the Trojans were 7-7 against the spread, a record affected by a struggling offense at the beginning of the season, and confident sharpies at the end of the season.
Let’s see how the 2014 team pans out before determining whether or not they were a good bet for the season.
Here’s the list of spreads from the Golden Nugget, for entertainment purposes only, of course.
- September 6th: USC (+3.5) at Stanford
- September 13th: USC (-23) at Boston College
- September 27th: USC (-17) vs. Oregon State
- October 4th: USC (-11) vs. Arizona State
- October 11th: USC (-7.5) at Arizona
- October 25th: USC (-10) at Utah
- November 13th: USC (-34) vs. California
- November 22nd: USC (+4.5) at UCLA
- November 29th: USC (-10) vs. Notre Dame