USC vs. Washington State Free College Football Week 3 Picks

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Nick Figueroa #50 of the USC Trojans sacks Jayden de Laura #4 of the Washington State Cougars during the first half of a game. Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images/AFP

USC and Washington State both have matching 1-1 records as they meet in Pullman for a Pac-12 conference game. The two teams are not equally satisfied with their respective marks, however. After blowing a two-touchdown lead and losing the opener, Washington State rebounded with a blowout win in Week Two. USC reversed that pattern, winning the opener in a rout, then getting upset by Stanford last weekend.  Here is a look at the Week 3 betting odds between USC and Washington State.

USC Trojans vs. Washington State Cougars 

Saturday, September 18, 2021 – 03:30 PM EDT at Martin Stadium

USC and Washington State both have matching 1-1 records as they meet in Pullman for a Pac-12 conference game. When it comes to their levels of satisfaction with their records, however, the two teams are not on the same page.

After blowing a two-touchdown lead and losing their opener to Utah State, Washington State rebounded with a blowout win over Portland State last week. While PSU might be an overmatched FCS team, it still gave the Cougars a chance to get things right, particularly on offense. USC will be the Pac-12 opener for Wazzu, who is playing its third straight home game of the season. 

USC is not in anywhere near as nice a place. The Trojans blew out San Jose State in the opener, then were shocked by Stanford at home last week, losing by 14 in a game that wasn’t as close as the score indicates.  

How shocking? The Trojans fired head coach Clay Helton two days after the loss and now will head out onto the road with the program in turmoil.

Quick Trigger

Helton has been on and off the hot seat repeatedly over the past few seasons, so the decision to move on wasn’t a shock. It was surprising to see it come so early in the season, however.

The team played a sloppy game against the Cardinal, however. Their kicker was ejected for targeting on the game’s opening kick. A penalty on a Stanford field goal attempt allowed the Cardinal to return to the field and get a touchdown instead, and an ill-advised pass led to a pick-six to seal the defeat.

Fans and alumni, including former Trojan and NFL star Keyshawn Johnson, were calling for Helton’s head. Johnson tweeted, “I’m so (angry). I can no longer fight on for him. Embarrassing.”

Donte Williams, who has been the team’s cornerbacks coach and defensive passing game coordinator for the last two years, will take over as interim coach. It’s his first head coaching job at any level. Which way to lean at BMR’s top-rated sportsbooks?

Offense on Track

After scoring just 23 points in the season-opening loss, Washington State’s offense looked much better against Portland State. In his first career start, quarterback Jayden de Laura completed 21 of 29 passes for 303 yards and three touchdowns.

That was a significant step forward from his performance in relief of Guarantano, who suffered an injury in the opener after beating out de Laura in a preseason quarterback competition. De Laura was just 11-of-21 for 133 yards in the opener. The team increased the tempo on offense, with coach Nick Rolovich saying de Laura did best “with a little bit of chaos.”

Rolovich hasn’t given an update on Guarantano’s status, but he said after week one that the injury could end the graduate transfer’s season. Either way, it seems that de Laura will be the man for the foreseeable future. 

Travell Harris had six catches for 80 yards and two scores and also added 108 return yards on three punts and one kickoff, earning him Pac-12 Special Teams Player of the Week honors.

Versatile running back Max Borghi scored a touchdown for the second straight week and had 83 combined rushing and receiving yards.

The defense could be a concern, particularly in the secondary. Nickelbacks Armani Marsh and Armauni Archie both missed last week’s game, as did safety Tanner Moku. The team didn’t give a reason for their absence, but injuries are the assumption. Cornerback Jaylen Watson went down during the game and was seen on the sideline in a sling, although the team is also being tight-lipped about his status for Saturday.

The Pick

USC is in turmoil, but sometimes a coaching change, followed by a road trip can help a team pull together. Washington State could see a much-improved level of effort and focus from the Trojans this week, and USC has the offensive weapons to take advantage of a depleted Wazzu secondary. Here is my college football pick.

NCAAF Pick: USC (-8) at BetOnline (visit our BetOnline Review)

*The line and/or odds on picks in this article might have moved since the content was commissioned. For updated line movements, visit BMR’s free betting odds product.