Washington State at No. 20 USC Betting Preview

Sunday, December 6, 2020, United Airlines Field at Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum, Los Angeles, 7:30 p.m. ET

Cougars at Trojans Betting Preview: Cougars (+14), Trojans (-14)

Washington State Cougars Betting Preview

The Cougars (1-1) could be a bit rusty.

They have had their past two games canceled because of coronavirus concerns, including last week’s Apple Cup rivalry against Washington. Athletic director Pat Chun said then that nine football players were in COVID-19 protocol.

“We talk about how disappointed I’m sure everyone is that there wasn’t an Apple Cup, but you flip it and go straight to USC,” first-year Cougars coach Nick Rolovich said. “Almost becomes like a bonus-bye-week-type deal.”

Under Rolovich, Washington State ranks third in the Pac-12 in passing yards per game (274.0) and seventh in rushing offense (164.5). Preseason all-conference first-team running back Max Borghi has yet to play this season after suffering a back injury in preseason camp.

Quarterback Jayden de Laura has been steady, completing 59.7 percent of his pass attempts for 548 yards, with four touchdowns and one interception. He reportedly was one of the Cougars who tested positive for COVID-19.

The Cougars’ last game was Nov. 14, a 43-29 loss at home to Oregon. Washington State was leading by 12 points late in the first half when the Ducks scored with three seconds remaining before intermission to reclaim the momentum.

“I don’t think they have a lot of fun sitting at home. I think this is a group that likes to be out there playing and competing,” Rolovich said. “I think they like the brand of football (they’re playing). Obviously, we wanted to win (against) Oregon, but just the mindset of playing has taken hold in this group.”

No. 20 USC Trojans Betting Preview

No. 10 USC (3-0) also had an unscheduled bye last week when its home game against Colorado — the only other unbeaten team in the Pac-12’s South Division — was called off.

The Trojans most recently played Nov. 21 at Utah, a 33-17 victory. Kedon Slovis was 24-of-35 passing for 264 yards and two touchdowns, and USC forced five turnovers. 

“We played with a swagger, especially on defense,” said Trojans coach Clay Helton, whose team had to rally late for victories in its first two games against Arizona State and Arizona.

Sunday’s game originally was scheduled to be played Friday night, but USC had four positive COVID-19 cases and seven other players quarantined by contact tracing protocols.

The Trojans finally got back on the practice field Tuesday.

“We feel like we’ve done a good job of shutting this thing down, hopefully,” Helton said. “We’ll see how that progresses through the week, but to have (Monday) for our players with no positive tests, that was awesome.”

The Trojans remained below the conference-mandated minimum of seven scholarship linemen Tuesday, and Helton said they are unlikely to be able to field a full scout team for practice this week.

“We are going to have to be creative,” Helton said. “You’re not going to be able to have enough bodies to have the amount of physical contact you need. It will not be a normal practice week for us.”

USC’s passing game has been balanced, with five different players with 13 or more receptions.

Cougars at Trojans Betting Pick for December 6, 2020

The Trojans have dominated the series to the tune of a 60-10-4 advantage, but the Cougars have managed a split in the last two games. They won 30-27 at Pullman in 2017 but dropped a 39-36 decision in 2018 in the last meeting when the Trojans blocked a potential tying field goal late in the game.

Cougars at Trojans Betting Pick:

Trojans 38, Cougars 17

Cougars at Trojans Best Bet for December 6, 2020

Both teams have had unexpected open dates. The Cougars haven’t played since a 43-29 loss to Oregon on Nov. 14. The Trojans’ last outing was a 33-17 win at Utah on Nov. 21.

Cougars at Trojans Best Bet: UNDER 64.5

–Field Level Media

Pac-12 Championship Odds for Week 12: So Wait… Who Wins What and How Now?

It may have taken the Pac-12 a couple of weeks to get one game under almost everyone’s belt, but they did it. Their season is underway, and while it may be short, a season is better than no season. If all goes well, maybe Utah will get to play their first game of the season soon.

Of course, with such a late start, games could not be postponed if a team had coronavirus issues. They would have to be canceled—and several already have. While it is understandable why they had to be canceled, doing so created a problem.

If one team goes 4-0 but had two games canceled, would they make it to the conference championship game over a team that was 5-1?

To that end, the Pac-12 decided on the following criteria for eligibility:

“…teams must play no less than one fewer conference game than the average number of conference games played by all conference teams…”

“If any team(s) has not played six (6) Conference games (due to not being able to reschedule a postponed Conference game) and any team(s) is within one Conference win from the team(s) with the highest conference winning percentage AND has an equal number of losses, those teams shall be declared tied.” 

In the case of a tie, the conference has eight different tiebreakers beginning with the head-to-head result and ending with a coin toss. But with how the Pac-12 is looking so far, that is probably not something fans will have to worry about.

Pac-12 Championship Odds: Anyone Make A Good First Impression?

If you had ever wondered why teams schedule soft, non-conference opponents to start the season, the reason has become abundantly clear this year. Everyone, from the big dogs down to the perennial losers, has kinks to work out.

Doing so against a soft opponent means you can work through issues without fear of losing the game. But since everyone is playing a conference-only schedule this year, most teams did not get that opportunity.

That is why USC (+150; odds via DraftKings) did not look as good as fans hoped they would against Arizona State (+4000) and Arizona (+4000). But in the end, they got it together in time to win both games. So, as far as the South division race goes, they are in great shape.  

They will need to be more consistent from now on if they are going to control their destiny. USC is scheduled to face Utah this weekend and Colorado (who is also 2-0) next week.

Not much was expected of Colorado (+2000) coming into the season, but the offense has been surprisingly good at putting points on the board. That is good since the defense has not been too good at stopping anyone yet.

They will need to beat USC in a couple of weeks if they want a legitimate shot at making the title game.

Why the Pac-12 Champ May Come From the North

Utah, while they have yet to play, is still in the hunt (+1200). They can make a bold statement with a win over USC this weekend (if they play).

UCLA’s (+1600) offense looked good in their first game (a loss to Colorado), but their defense did not. Against Cal, they looked good on both sides of the ball. But they will have to earn their spot in the title game with wins over Oregon and USC this year.

In the North Division, Oregon (+150) is running the show as expected. They cruised by Stanford in their season opener. Washington State made it tough on them last weekend, but the Ducks still won by 14. Of their four remaining games, their most formidable opponent left is UCLA, who they face this week.

Of the rest of the division, Washington (+700) is undefeated (1-0), but they struggled against a bad Oregon State (+50000) team. Washington State (+2200) may have the best chance of challenging Oregon, but since the Ducks have already beaten them, the Cougars will have to win out and get some help.

As expected, it looks like USC and Oregon are going to meet in the conference title game. But anything can happen over the next few weeks. Just because someone has looked good after one or two games does not mean anything.

Right, Mississippi State?