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USC vs. Colorado prediction: College football picks, odds, best bets

Colorado football had its moment, and that moment ended last week. 

The Oregon Ducks dog-walked the Buffs in Eugene, winning 42-6. The monster holes in the Buffaloes’ roster construction were exposed on national television. 

The reality of the situation should have dawned on Coach Prime and the nation during those 60 minutes.

The team isn’t that good.

USC vs. Colorado prediction

The Buffs aren’t a top-25 team, and there are too many holes to patch.

It’s a rebuild in Boulder. The Buffaloes are ahead of schedule but aren’t yet at the end of the Eisenhower-Johnson Tunnel. 

In Week 5, the Buffaloes host reigning Heisman winner Caleb Williams and No. 8 USC.

They’re still without Travis Hunter, so it’s hard to see Colorado stopping USC from scoring at will. 

However, USC’s defense is much worse than Oregon’s, and I think the Trojans are vulnerable to Sheduer Sanders’ aerial attack. 

In sports gambling, you want to zag when the world zigs.

Public money is pouring in on USC after Colorado’s blunder last week, but I’m betting the Buffs have the tools to keep this one within three scores. 

Williams and USC should have no problem shredding Colorado’s defense. 

The Trojans are tops nationally in Expected Points Added (EPA) per Play (0.44), Success Rate (56%), and points per game (55). 

USC Trojans quarterback Caleb Williams
Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Not only can Williams sit back and sling it to Tahj Washington or Brendan Rice, but the Trojans have a dangerous, bruising run game led by Marshawn Lloyd (349 yards at 8.9 per carry) and a solid offensive line that ranks second nationally in Line Yards.

So, yeah, Colorado’s defense should get ripped apart. Their run defense has significant holes, and their secondary is useless without Travis Hunter manning the CB1 spot. It’s the same story as last week. 

Except there’s one big difference between last week and this week. 

Last week, Oregon had the personnel to stop Colorado’s pass-heavy attack. The Ducks’ secondary is much improved from a season ago. This week, USC doesn’t have that same luxury. 

The Trojan defense continues to be abysmal. They returned nine starters from last year’s squad, but no improvements have been made, as they still rank 95th nationally in EPA per Play allowed and 130th in Explosive Plays allowed. 

To stop Colorado, you must stop Sanders and the downfield passing attack. The Buffaloes don’t have a run game to fall back on (1.9 yards per carry), instead relying on Sanders’ 350 passing yards per game, alongside explosive wideouts Xavier Weaver and Jimmy Horn Jr.

So, stopping the pass means stopping Coach Prime, and that’s precisely what Oregon did last week.

I don’t see USC doing the same thing.

Especially considering how badly the Trojans have defended in Passing Downs (100th nationally in Success Rate allowed, 109th in EPA per Play allowed).

Even if Colorado gets behind the sticks, Sanders should sling his way to another first down. 

This will be the Trojans’ toughest defensive test yet, and it’s coming on the road in Boulder at 5,430 feet of altitude. 

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Considering they couldn’t cover the spread against San Jose State (28 points allowed) or Arizona State (28 points allowed), I don’t see them covering here. 

The Arizona State game was particularly concerning.

The Sun Devils looked incompetent on offense during their non-conference season but dropped 28 points with an above-average Success Rate mark (41%, 52nd percentile) against this College Football Playoff contender. 

If you can’t stop Drew Pyne, you won’t stop Sanders, even without one of his top wideouts in Hunter. 

USC will score, but you must play moderately competent defense to cover as a three-touchdown road favorite.

The Trojans could drop 50 here, but Colorado should score 30 or more. I suspect the final score lands somewhere around 49-31. 

Our Action Network PRO model projects the Trojans as 18-point favorites, giving us a three-point edge over the market. 

USC vs. Colorado pick

Colorado +21