California Golden Bears
(3-2, 4-1 ATS)
(4-2, 3-3 ATS)
The Golden Bears put a good taste in the mouths of their NCAA football betting aficionados once again last week with a dominating victory over the UCLA Bruins at home. The problem is that they have played quite poorly, particularly offensively in recent weeks. The nine points scored against the Arizona Wildcats back on September 25th is a reminder of how fickle this offense can be, while the defense allowing 52 to the Nevada Wolf Pack shows that this unit could be had as well. However, the stats are generally pretty good for HC Jeff Tedford’s club. His team ranks No. 23 in the nation in scoring and No. 17 in points allowed, and the defense is allowing just 254.8 yards per game. RB Shane Vereen would need a lot of things to go wrong for a lot of other people to legitimately pull it off, but he is putting up numbers that would warrant him being in the Heisman Trophy race. He has 577 rushing yards and eight TDs, and he is also third on the team in receptions (11), receiving yards (119), and receiving TDs (2). The problem is QB Kevin Riley. After throwing seven TDs in his first two games, Riley has tossed just two scores against four picks and is coming off of a game in which he threw for just 83 yards.
The Trojans are starting to slide having lost two straight games, but the second defeat clearly wasn’t from the very predictable lack of effort. USC gave it everything it had against the Stanford Cardinal and probably would’ve won the game if time management had been a tad better down the stretch. The Men of Troy have an absolutely fearless leader right now in the form of QB Matt Barkley. He has this offense humming to the tune of 476.0 yards per game, 262.7 of which are coming through the air. USC ranks in the Top 30 in every major offensive category on the season. Barkley has thrown for 1,517 yards and 15 TDs against just four picks. RB Allen Bradford had a dud of a game last week, running for just 33 yards on 13 carries on the heels of three straight very strong games in which he totaled well over 400 yards. WRs Ronald Johnson and Robert Woods are both on pace for 1,000 yard seasons as well. The big problem is the defense, which is shocking for a Monte Kiffin coached unit. USC ranks just No. 100 in the land at 428.7 yards per game of total defense, numbers that clearly aren’t cutting it. After three respectable weeks, the Trojans have now allowed 69 points in their L/2 games.
If the defense can at least give USC a little something like it has in recent years against Cal, the Bears don’t stand a chance. They haven’t scored more than two TDs in a game in this series in six tries, and if that’s what’s going to happen on Saturday, they’re up the creek without their proverbial paddle. We’ll back USC one more time right before its bye.
College Football Free Pick: USC Trojans -2.5