USC was counted out by many after falling to 3-3 last month, but three straight wins have the Trojans in the thick of the chase for the Pac-12 South title. USC continues that quest in a rare Friday night game, visiting Colorado to open a two-game road swing.
The Trojans found themselves in a 14-0 hole early in the second quarter last Saturday against visiting Arizona but outscored the Wildcats 38-16 the rest of the way to remain a game behind Utah in the South standings. “This team, no matter what happens, no matter what’s coming, they keep fighting back,” USC quarterback Cody Kessler told reporters. “We know how to handle adversity.” Colorado is facing its own adversity, dropping two straight against ranked foes UCLA (35-31) and Stanford (42-10) following a 17-13 win at Oregon State on Oct. 24 that snapped a 14-game Pac-12 skid. “There is a sense of urgency for us to make sure we get some more wins, there’s no doubt, ” Colorado coach Mike MacIntyre said at his weekly Tuesday news conference. “There is also a sense of urgency by the seniors, especially with our last home game being now.”
TV: 9 p.m. ET, ESPN2.
LINE HISTORY: Books opened USC as a 16-point road fave, but that has since moved to -16.5. The total is down to 61 from the opening 61.5.
USC – CB Jonathan Lockett (Probable, groin), LB Cameron Smith (Probable, shoulder), WR JuJu Smith (Probable, hand), S Leon McQuay III (Questionable, knee), RB Tre Madden (Out, knee), G Toa Labendahn (Out for season, knee), WR Issac Whitney (Out indefinitely, collarbone), C Max Tuerk (Out for season, knee).
Colorado – WR Shay Fields (Questionable, ankle), WR Jay MacIntyre (Questionable, concussion), LB Ryan Severson (Questionable, ankle), Michael Adkins II (Questionable, hamstring), OL Gerrad Kough (Questionable, concussion), DB Ryan Moeller (Doubtful, concussion), LB Addison Gillam (Out for season, knee), OL Jeromy Irwin (Out for season, knee), DL Tyler Henington (Out for season, leg).
WEATHER: Temperatures in Boulder are expected to be in the high-30s. Wind will blow across the field at around 6 mph.
WHAT CAPPERS SAY: “Colorado desperately needs two more wins to become bowl eligible and only has three games left in which to accomplish that. With contests vs. USC on Friday, and at Washington State and at Utah to close the season respectively, the Buffs could be a great “play on” team to end the season; note that Colorado is 2-1 ATS its last three as a home dog in the 14.5 to 17 points range, while USC is already 0-2 ATS this season after two or more consecutive SU wins and just 2-8 ATS in the same position over the last three.” Covers Expert AAA Sports.
WHAT BOOKS SAY: “We opened the Trojans as 16 point favorites at Colorado with USC seeing over 70% of that action. With the overwhelming action on USC to cover we have since gone to -16.5 where we are sitting at over 75% of the action on the Trojans to cover. I can see us getting up to -17 or even -17.5 as we get closer to kick off.” Michael Stewart, CarbonSports.ag.
ABOUT USC (6-3 SU, 5-4 ATS, 4-5 O/U): The Trojans are 3-1 under interim coach Clay Helton, thanks largely to Kessler who has completed 70.9 percent of his passes with three TDs and no interceptions during the team’s current three-game run. Tailback Ronald Jones II also provided a huge boost against Arizona, rushing for a school freshman-record 177 yards on 19 carries and likely has earned himself extra touches with fellow tailback Tre Madden battling a lingering knee issue. Defensively, USC is led by freshman linebacker Cameron Smith (72 total tackles, three interceptions) and is ranked fourth in the Pac-12 in both scoring defense (22.6 points allowed per game) and total defense (397.1 yards).
ABOUT COLORADO (4-6 SU, 3-6-1 ATS, 4-6 O/U): The Buffs will be attempting to bounce back from the 32-point home drubbing by the seventh-ranked Cardinal – Colorado’s most lopsided loss of the season – in which they were outgained 472-231, including 275-83 on the ground. Quarterback Sefo Liufau led the team with 43 rushing yards in the game but also finished with a season-low 125 passing yards and has been intercepted three times with no TD passes the last two weeks. Despite having surrendered 35 or more points in all five of their Pac-12 losses, the Buffs rank in the top half of the conference in season scoring defense (28.3 points) and passing defense (219.3 yards).
* Trojans are 4-1 ATS in their last five meetings.
* Trojans are 7-15 ATS in their last 22 road games.
* Buffaloes are 0-4 ATS in their last four home games.
* Under is 8-2 in Trojans last 10 conference games.
COVERS CONSENSUS: Sixty-nine percent of bettors are backing the Trojans.