USC Trojans vs. Stanford Cardinal Point Spread – Pick

USC Trojans (1-0 SU, 0-1 ATS) vs. Stanford Cardinal (1-0 SU, 1-0 ATS)
College Football Week 2
Date/Time: Saturday, September 8, 2017 at 8:30PM EDT
Where: Stanford Stadium, Stanford, California
TV: Fox

By Loot, NCAA Football Handicapper, Lootmeister.com

Point Spread: USC +4.5/STAN -4.5
Over/Under Total: 54.5

In big Pac-12 action, the Southern Cal Trojans come up north to face the Stanford Cardinal on Saturday in week two. Week one was window dressing, as things get considerably more real this week with a big conference battle. Each team was able to emerge successful in week one, even if Stanford had the tougher opposition, beating a San Diego State that beat them the previous season, 31-10, and covering the spread. USC, with more kinks to work out, did not cover, though handily beat a decent UNLV team, 43-21. It was their first game in a while without current Jets starter Sam Darnold. We’ll see how it all looks in a more-revealing context this week.

Stanford was able to turn the tables on the Aztecs last week in impressive fashion. Bryce Love got off to a pretty slow start for a Heisman frontrunner, picking up just 29 yards. But it showed that at least against SDSU, they can call on what looks like an improved aerial attack. Quarterback KJ Costello had a big game and seems more confident in attacking aerially, as he did with aplomb in week one. JJ Arcega-Whiteside was absolutely huge and looked like a potential difference-maker this season at wide receiver. But the San Diego State secondary might be a notch or two beneath the better groups they will see this season.

Also impressive was the Stanford defense. Heading into the season, there was some doubt surrounding the front, with some recent departures having left them a bit thin in the defensive trenches. And some others haven’t really progressed according to schedule. There was a prevailing thought that the Stanford “D” could take a step back. Now, a good performance against a SDSU team that may have regressed doesn’t put those concerns to sleep, but first impressions were certainly positive.

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With USC, the mind goes to what happens now without Darnold? But since when has coming up with good quarterbacks been a problem with this program? Even so, one has to wonder what is in store for true freshman starting quarterback JT Daniels. His talent is unmistakable. But last season, he was slaying high school secondaries in 8000-seat venues and now he finds himself in a hostile conference matchup taking on a ranked team. All in all, he didn’t look too bad in a big Coliseum atmosphere in week one, but this ratchets up a notch this week.

Some things should help the youngster as he becomes less-raw and more-refined. Daniels is without Ronald Jones, II., the top rusher for the Trojans the past few seasons, but a lot of talent around him remains. Aca’Sedric Ware and Vavae Malepai are still viable and perhaps emerging playmaker Stephen Carr can help this offense get a little spark. Some incoming talent like WR Amon-Ra St. Brown will help, as will remaining aerial pieces like Tyler Vaughns and Michael Pittman, Jr.

We also don’t want to read too much into Stanford’s win over San Diego State last week. Some issues could start to resonate this week and beyond. How things worked out against the Aztecs is not much of a measuring stick for a team like Stanford. This is the test. Can this defense show it has what it takes to withstand tough offenses in this conference? Will opposing defenses stack the box to fight off the Love onslaught? And if so, will the Stanford offense and Costello show they can diversify their approach as well as they did in week one?

Week one was a difficult week in which to emerge with any concrete conclusions. If USC played UNLV and Stanford played San Diego State in midseason, no one would bat an eyelash, so let’s not place too much stock in those outings. Even last season’s results don’t seem to matter a ton, which is unfortunate since they played twice. Stanford won both games by more than two scores. That was against Sam Darnold. So they should be able to cover a smallish spread at home with a true freshman coming into town? Well, if you’ve been betting college ball for any length of time, you know those seemingly iron-clad observations often amount to precisely jack-squat.

I actually see the Trojans matching up better with the Cardinal this season. The element of Daniels behind center as a true freshman is a component where accounting for it fully is difficult to do—somewhat of a stab in the dark. But again, with the Trojans’ track-record with quarterbacks, one is almost inclined to defer to their ability to cultivate stars and take the leap-of-faith. I see this as being a difficult game to call, which makes me think that maybe taking the points is a good idea.

Loot’s Prediction to Cover the Point Spread: I’m betting on the USC Trojans plus 4.5 points. Bet the USC vs. Stanford game for FREE by taking advantage of a massive 100% sign-up bonus on your first deposit of $100 to $500 at GTBets!

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