The Oregon Ducks (7-1 SU, 4-4 ATS) lost a heart-breaker in the season opener to Auburn, and since then they have reeled off seven straight wins and find themselves ranked #7 by the Associated Press and #8 in the Coaches Poll. They are still in the running for a spot in the four-team college football playoff. Sometimes it takes a little good fortune, and they got some of that last week as they won on a field goal as time ran out against Washington State.
The USC Trojans (5-3 SU, 4-4 ATS) are suddenly atop the Pac-12 South division, which leaves them with a chance to get to the Rose Bowl. And with the new Air Raid offense that was originally supposed to be brought in by Kliff Kingsbury but is now steered by Graham Harrell and a freshman quarterback, may help head coach Clay Helton hold onto his job.
Oregon and USC tangle on Saturday night at the refurbished L.A. Memorial Coliseum, and while BetAnySports customers watch it on Fox, they can place wagers in real time with Live Betting Ultra.
They can also get better odds than usual (i.e., laying -110) by accessing reduced juice.
And speaking of reduced juice, here it is as it is applied to the Pac-12 football betting odds on this game:
Oregon Ducks -4.5 (-105)
USC Trojans +4.5 (-105)
Over 62 points (-105)
Under 62 points (-105)
Frankly, Oregon quarterback Justin Herbert may have much more of a chance to win the Campbell Trophy than the Heisman Trophy. The Campbell Trophy is presented to the nation’s top scholar athlete in college football, and he is one of twelve finalists for it. He is easily the most accomplished player on the list – at least on the field – and he isn’t half bad in the classroom, with a 4.01 grade-point average.
He is smart when he has the ball in his hands too, having thrown just one interception this season.
On the season, he’s not putting up “video games” numbers like the other guys who have been mentioned for the Heisman, but they are solid, with 179 completions in 262 attempts (that’s 68%) for 2104 yards and 21 touchdowns. And he is, of course, being mentioned prominently for another player of the year award – of sorts – as he is still a candidate, we presume, to be the first player selected in the NFL Draft.
But it’s looking more and more as if he’ll have to do some great things after the season ends to enhance his status. Herbert has the physical measurements, and is good in the short passing game, but isn’t quite as proficient when it comes to throwing the ball farther down the field.
He actually sounds a little more suited to an Air Raid offense, which is what the Ducks ran into last week.
Oregon was able to escape that one when Camden Lewis hit a 26-yard field goal at the final gun. But it was Washington State’s ninth straight cover against them. It was a good thing for Oregon that CJ Verdell decided to have the game of his career, rushing for 257 yards of the team’s 306 yards (including an 89-yard TD) and adding 50 more through receptions. But Wazzu’s Anthony Gordon threw for 406 yards against them.
And now after that close call, Oregon runs into another Air Raid attack. And it will have a lot of the same concepts; USC’s offensive coordinator, Graham Harrell, was one of Mike Leach’s quarterbacks at Texas Tech.
Harrell came across his current pupil by accident. Kedon Slovis was third on the depth chart and was forced into action after injuries to JT Daniels and Matt Fink. Slovis, a freshman, has proven to be a quick study. He’s thrown for thirteen touchdowns and has the fourth best fourth-quarter passer rating out of all the QB’s in the Power 5 conferences. He’s gutsy and added some drama by directing a couple of TD drives in the final period against Colorado last time out.
So Oregon is facing the same type of offense for the second week in a row, and unless they’re having all kinds of nightmares about it, I can’t see where that’s going to hurt them here. The fact that USC’s attack doesn’t quite have the precision or continuity of Washington State’s Air Raid means they should be more prepared than they might otherwise be. In effect, they’ve had two weeks to get ready.
And if you take a look, you’ll see that USC’s defensive statistics against the run are very similar to that of Washington State. They have allowed 4.9 yards per carry; their stuff rate is extremely low (15%), and they are one of the worst in the nation in the metric of “Opportunity Rate.” Okay, forget the jargon; just suffice it to say that they are vulnerable out there. And with Herbert playing in such a way as to avoid those silly mistakes, the door is open for Oregon to cover this number.
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