Philadelphia, PA – Stanford has won four of the last five meetings with USC, including last year's dramatic triple-overtime game. The Cardinal also have covered six of the last eight meetings as well as four of the last five as an underdog.
Both clubs have opened the season with two straight victories, but they are a combined 1-3 against-the-spread. The Trojans failed to cover in their victories over Hawaii and Syracuse, while Stanford is 1-1 ATS due to its easy cover over Duke last Saturday.
USC showed some of its warts on defense last week when the Orange gained 455 total yards. Meanwhile, Stanford got back on track offensively after struggling in Week 1. The Cardinal blew out the Blue Devils, 50-13, in preparation for its biggest game of the season (until the Nov. 17 matchup at Oregon).
Quarterback Josh Nunes has not been very accurate this year (only a 57 percent completion percentage), but the offensive line has protected him well (just two sacks in two games) and he's only thrown one interception. Stanford's running game will keep the Cardinal in the contest, especially with USC's inexperienced front four. This Trojans' current defensive line has not faced an offense anywhere near the quality of Stanford's, so look for Stepfan Taylor to have a huge game.
The key will be for the Cardinal defense to hold down Matt Barkley and Co., something that Hawaii and Syracuse have failed to do. Stanford is 99th nationally in pass defense, allowing an average of 295 yards per game. However, the Cardinal have allowed just one touchdown pass with four interceptions.
Since 2008, USC is just 7-12 as a road favorite while Stanford is 4-0 as a home underdog. Look for the Cardinal to chalk up another cover with an ATS victory over the Trojans.
Take Stanford plus 8.5 points as a five-star play.
I usually do not concentrate much on over/under plays, but there are two games that really stand out.
Boston College is at Northwestern and the Eagles have scored 32 and 34 points in their first two contests. They are averaging 330 passing yards a game in the system brought in by new offensive coordinator Doug Martin. Last year, the Eagles ran the ball 57 percent of the time. This season, they are passing the ball 53 percent of the time.
Northwestern put up 42 in its opener at Syracuse and then cooled off to just 23 against the defensive-minded Vanderbilt Commodores. The Wildcats should rack up the yards and points this week against Boston College.
Take over 53 points.
How can I let a week go by without including Connecticut? The Huskies are not the pick against Maryland, but with the No. 1 rush defense in the country, don't expect the Terrapins to do much damage on the ground. Connecticut also is ninth nationally in pass defense, and that number could even improve against a true freshman quarterback.
Offensively, the Huskies have been extremely weak. Quarterback Chandler Whitmer has looked atrocious throwing five picks in just two games. Additionally, running back Lyle McCombs is averaging just 3.3 yards per carry.
The only way this game does not go under the total is if either team takes advantage of turnovers.
Go with under 42.5 points.
Finally, Wisconsin comes back home after its first single-digit scoring output since 2008. The Badgers have looked flat-out awful and things don't get much easier with Utah State coming to Madison.
The Aggies have already played well in a hostile environment when they almost beat Auburn to open the 2011 season. They have yet to play on the road this year, but the two home games have been spectacular blowing out Southern Utah by 31 points and upsetting Utah by seven.
Utah State is trending up while Wisconsin is trending down. Look for the Aggies to keep this one close throughout with a slight possibility of pulling off the upset.
Take Utah State plus 14 points.
Go with Kansas +21 (hosting TCU), Indiana -2.5 (against Ball State), North Carolina State -31.5 (against South Alabama), New Mexico +33.5 (at Texas Tech) and Kentucky -7 (versus Western Kentucky).
Take Wake Forest +28 (at Florida State).