Stanford at USC
Saturday, 5:30 pm PT - FOX
CRIS Opener: USC -5.5 O/U 54.5
CRIS Current: USC -5.5 O/U 54.5
Key early season conference tilt in the PAC-12 with Stanford heading to USC. The Cardinal got the better of the Trojans last season, 27-10, in a similar conference opener setting. The results should reverse on Saturday as Stanford has the dubious task of coming in off of what I believe to be an unproductive bye week after opening the season with a 62-7 blowout win in Australia over weakling Rice. Last season, Stanford opened with a win over Kansas State, had a bye week, and they dispatched the Trojans in Palo Alto. While that appears similar situation-wise, there are some distinct differences. For one, Stanford never left campus. Their win over Kansas State was at home, followed by a bye, and then another home game vs. USC. And the Wildcats served as a "real" opponent, one that no doubt helped better prepare Stanford for its looming matchup against the Trojans. There was no resistance whatsoever in Week 1 as Rice grades out as one of the worst teams in college football. And there was obviously a lot of time spent traveling and adjusting to the unique environment.
Meanwhile, USC got a test and some against pesky Western Michigan. The Broncos may have lost head coach PJ Fleck but the core of the team remains and the Trojans were very complimentary of WMU's Big Ten-esque talent. In the end, USC pulled away 49-31 and while they failed to cover the pointspread, I feel as if the experience better serves this squad for Saturday rather than rolling up a weak Mountain West outfit by 40 points. I think the betting markets are discounting USC a tad here after its less-than-stellar performance. Combine that with the overreaction to Stanford's blow out and the false benefit of a bye week and less than a touchdown becomes an attractive price for the home side.