This season I’ll be breaking down a few of college football’s biggest games each week and giving out at least one bet I like from each matchup.
Let’s take a look at undefeated USC traveling up to Corvallis to take on unranked Oregon State.
USC vs Oregon State Total, current line:
USC vs Oregon State Best Bet Prediction:
If I had to bet this game against the spread, I’d lay the points and take USC (-6), but my preferred play in this matchup is to take the under at 70.5 points.
When USC is on Offense
Oregon State’s best defense will be its ability to control the clock, because there’s no evidence it can slow down Caleb Williams and the USC passing attack.
Williams has proven vulnerable when under duress this year, which is some cause for concern.
Take a look at Williams’s numbers when facing pressure:
- 46.7% completion rate
- 2.9 yards per attempt
- 31% of pressures converted to sacks
That’s a major red flag for the USC offense which hasn’t hurt them yet. However, Oregon State is probably not the defense that’s going to exploit that weakness.
According to Sports Info Solutions, the Beavers rank 11th in the Pac-12 in pressure rate generated (15%), which is especially concerning given their high blitz rate (27%, third highest in the Pac-12).
Oregon State ranked 80th in opponent-adjusted pressure rate generated last season, so their early struggles in this area are not a surprise.
When Oregon State is on Offense
Oregon State is a physical run-first team, and will attempt to lean heavily on the run game in this matchup to keep USC’s offense off the field.
Dating back to last season, Oregon State runs the ball at a 66% clip in a neutral game situation, per Campus2Canton.
The Beavers lean on the duo of Deshaun Fenwick and Damien Martinez in the backfield, with the veteran Fenwick leading the way.
Yds/Att Yds Before Contact per Att Yds/Att vs Stacked Box Deshaun Fenwick 5.2 3.3 4.6 Damien Martinez 5.1 2.2 3.7
USC’s defense will let you run all over it 一 the key is staying close enough to keep the run game an option.
The Trojans are allowing a disturbing 3.4 yards before contact per attempt to opposing running backs, per Sports Info Solutions. And that rate is actually higher in the first half (before any starters may have been subbed out) at 3.9 yards before contact per carry.
If USC finds itself in a close game, the inability to stop the run could be the Trojans’ downfall.
Should the Beavers fall behind, Chance Nolan’s ability to lead a comeback with the passing game may depend on his protection. He’s been pressured on just 17% of his dropbacks this year, and no higher than 22% in any game, per Sports Info Solutions.
USC’s pass-rush generated pressure at a 41% rate in this matchup a year ago, but questions were raised by the 17% pressure rate generated against Stanford two weeks ago.
Final Thoughts on USC vs Oregon State Best Bets
A week ago I thought I’d definitely be on Oregon State, but was surprised to see this line under a touchdown.
I think the reason for the smaller-than-expected line is USC’s epic influx of transfers broke all the projection models. The previous season’s results are a significant factor in these models early in the year 一 including ones used by the oddsmakers 一 but there’s no precedent for how USC rebuilt the program in one offseason.
So with the line under a touchdown, I’ll stay away and play the total instead.
Since the start of last season, the under has gone 5-2 when the Beavs are at home in Reeser Stadium.
I don’t know if Oregon State can control the ball long enough to pull the upset, but it should win the time of possession battle and slow down the scoring. Take the under at 70.5 points.
Other College Football Betting Predictions for Week 4: