Odds for the USC vs. ASU game on Saturday night have the Trojans favored over the Sun Devils, but by a closer margin than would have been expected before the season.
Pac-12 South play continues this Saturday as the Trojans battle for the division title and the right to defend their conference title.
In one way, they no longer control their own destiny, having ceded that advantage to Utah with a loss in Salt Lake City. However, they do control their ability to stay alive in the race. A loss against the Sun Devils would almost certainly crush hopes of repeating as Pac-12 champs.
At the very least, oddsmakers expect a bounceback, with the line for the USC vs. ASU game opening at four points on Monday afternoon and quickly growing to 6.5, per OddsShark.
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That 6.5-point mark is noteworthy as the Sun Devils have lost four games this season by exactly seven points.
New head coach Herm Edwards surprised the college football world with a Week 2 upset of Michigan State, but ASU has since lost to San Diego State, Washington, Colorado and Stanford. They are playing competitive football, however, and are expected to give USC a game as well.
The margin between the two teams is undoubtedly impacted by the uncertainty around the Trojans going into yet another critical game. Quarterback JT Daniels suffered an apparent concussion against Utah and will have to clear concussion protocol before he can practice or play in a game. His backup, Matt Fink, is definitely out with broken ribs, leaving third-stringer Jack Sears as the only other scholarship quarterback available.
USC’s injury list on defense is also extensive going into this week. Linebacker Cameron Smith remains dogged by a hamstring injury while most of the Trojans’ defensive lineup suffered bumps and bruises of some sort against Utah.
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Most concerning, the Trojans are coming off a demoralizing 41-28 loss to Utah. After the Utes stifled USC’s offense and wore out the defense, questions over the quality of the team and coaching staff have reached a fever pitch.