I started the season losing most of the close games on my College Bets Bets (5-15 on games decided by 7 points or less the first 7 weeks) but I am now up for the season after 3 consecutive winning weeks and a win on my Tuesday Best Bet on Kent State +21.5 over Western Michigan. That brings my current run to 13-5 on my Best Bets and I hope to continue my strong finish to the season.
The USC at Washington game would have been a Best Bet based on the math had it not been for a good situation favoring the other side, but the math performs better than the situations do and I still like the Trojans enough to make them a Strong Opinion.
In addition to the Strong Opinion below, I will have 2 or 3 Best Bets for Saturday and more Strong Opinions for just $85.
The NFL Best Bets also are doing very well at 58.0% winners for the season (37-12 on sides and 14-25 on totals) and the NFL Strong Opinions are an even better 64.6% winners (12-9-2 on sides and 19-8 on totals). We have 8 remaining Best Bets for Sunday (4 sides and 4 totals) and 10 Strong Opinions (5 sides and 5 totals, some on the Free Analysis page) – all for just $95 for the NFL Week Pass.
Strong Opinion – Usc (+8 ½) 27 WASHINGTON 30
USC started the season 1-3 straight up but the switch at quarterback from overly conservative Max Browne (only 8.7 yards per completion) to freshman stud Sam Darnold has ignited the Trojans’ offense and I’ve been on them 4 times in the last 5 weeks (2 Best Bets and 2 Strong Opinions all won). Washington is a very, very good team that is certainly deserving of their lofty ranking but USC is just as talented and I still see value with the Trojans.
USC has one of the nation’s best offensive teams with Darnold at the controls, as the Trojans have run (264 yards at 6.9 yprp) and passed (291 yards at 8.7 yppp) their way to an average of 555 yards at 7.7 yards per play in Darnold’s 6 starts (against teams that would allow 5.9 yppl to an average attack) while averaging 7.2 yppl or more in all 6 games. It’s highly unlikely that USC will average over 7 yards a play in this game against a dominating Washington defense that I rate at 1.6 yards per play better than average (based only on the stats before taking their starters out). Washington is not impenetrable, however, as the Huskies have allowed an average of 25 points to the 4 good offensive teams that they’ve faced (Arizona, Oregon, Utah, and Cal) – none of which is close to as good as USC’s offense. USC’s offense is actually a bit better than Washington’s defense and the math model projects 387 yards at 5.5 yppl for the Trojans in this game.
Washington is as well rounded as any team in the nation, as the Huskies’ offense is also an elite unit that has averaged 48 points per game and 7.8 yards per play (against teams that would allow 6.2 yppl to an average team). USC has a good defense that’s yielded just 5.3 yppl to a schedule of opposing offensives that would average 6.1 yppl against an average team, but my model projects a healthy 401 yards at 6.4 yppl for the Huskies in this game.
While Washington has a clear yards per play advantage they are projected to outgain the Trojans by only 14 total yards because USC is likely to have more plays from scrimmage (because Washington tends to hit on a lot of big plays while USC puts together more drives). The big plays tend to lead to a higher scoring efficiency for Washington (i.e. more points per yard) but USC has a decisive edge in special teams that should equate to better field position, which could make the difference in a competitive game.
Overall the math favors Washington by just 1 ½ points in this game but unfortunately the Huskies apply to a very good 70-13 ATS home momentum situation that will keep me from making the Trojans a Best Bet. USC is a math model play and the math tends to perform better than situational analysis, so I will still consider USC a Strong Opinion at +7 ½ points or more (and as a 1-Star Best Bet at +10 or more).