The first group of NCAA bowl games kicks off Saturday with a lineup of great matchups. In Las Vegas, home to the biggest sports books in the U.S. will be the Las Vegas Bowl between the Fresno State Bulldogs and the USC Trojans.
USC will be playing for its third coach of the season when its offensive coordinator and now interim coach Clay Helton takes the sidelines today.
The Trojans were revived under Ed Orgeron their interim coach for 8 games. Under Orgeron, the Trojans were 6-2 SU and 5-3 ATS. Overall, this season USC was 9-4 SU and 6-7 ATS.
USC signed Steve Sarkisian to coach after the regular season ended and Orgeron decided to leave before the bowl game. That left Helton the job of motivating a very disappointed team.
Fresno State finished the season 11-1 SU and 5-7 ATS. They too might have motivation issues as their hopes to play in a BCS bowl were dashed when they lost to San Jose State in November. Last year, the Bulldogs lost in the Hawaii Bowl to SMU 41-13 as favorites by 13 points.
The line on this game has USC favored by 6.5 points with the point total sitting on 62. On Bovada, the line opened at 7 in favor of USC and has stayed near the 6 to 7 range since. The point total on topbet is currently 62, but has fluctuated between 61.5 and 63.
USC is 7-13 ATS over their past 20 games when a favorite. Fresno State was the favorite in all 12 of their games this season, making this the first game they have been an underdog.
Over the past two seasons, the Bulldogs had a record of 8-3 ATS as the underdog. USC was 4-5 ATS versus teams that are playing a bowl game, while the Bulldogs were 2-3 ATS against teams playing bowl games.
Fresno State has one of the country’s top quarterbacks in Derek Carr. The team averages 38 points and over 325 yards passing per game. However, Fresno State has not faced a defense of the caliber of USC.
Defensively Fresno State has given up huge chunks of yards and points. In their only loss, Fresno State allowed 62 points.
Offensively USC is banged up. The top three rushers for USC could miss the game on Saturday. Tre Madden who leads the team in rushing was out all this week with an ankle injury. He could play, but it will be a decision made at game time. Silas Redd is also doubtful.
Motivation wise, Fresno State has recovered more than USC as they won their last game of the regular season and USC has not played since losing Orgeron.
Carr is NFL bound and likely two of his receivers are as well. The Fresno quarterback has 48 touchdown passes and sportsbooks like betonline and sportsbook.com have taken a great deal of action on the Bulldogs.
Pick: Take Fresno State and the points as well as the OVER.