Handicapping Pac-12’s Ranked Doubleheader: USC-UCLA, Utah-Oregon

Finally, the Pac-12 is taking center stage in college football Saturday, Nov. 19. It took 11 weeks to get here but the two biggest matchups in college football’s Week 12 docket are the No. 7 USC Trojans vs. No. 16 UCLA Bruins and No. 10 Utah Utes vs. No. 12 Oregon Ducks.

USC Trojans (9-1) at UCLA Bruins (8-2)

Southern California has won three straight since losing at Utah in a 43-42 shootout — 1-2 against the spread (ATS) — with the latest being a 55-17 whooping of the Colorado Buffaloes.

UCLA is no longer a College Football Playoff contender after losing to Arizona 34-28 at home last week. The Bruins can still win the conference title with a victory this week and next at the California Bears. UCLA crushed USC last season 62-33.

But, things are different in Southern California. The Trojans poached coach and quarterback Lincoln Riley and QB Caleb Williams from Oklahoma. And that’s what I’m betting in USC-UCLA. The Trojans have the better QB and head coach.

USC Trojans QB Caleb Williams assessing the Colorado Buffaloes' defense at United Airlines Field at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum in Los Angeles.
USC Trojans QB Caleb Williams assessing the Colorado Buffaloes’ defense at United Airlines Field at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum. (Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)

Williams leads the Pac-12 in TD passes (31) and adjusted air yards per attempt and Riley won the Big XII championship in four of his five seasons in Norman, Oklahoma.

Furthermore, UCLA has a bad pass defense. The Bruins are 86th in opposing passer efficiency rating allowed and 124th in opposing passing completion rate. Williams and USC’s talented WR corp is going to have a field day vs. UCLA’s secondary.

The oddsmakers price USC-UCLA as a toss-up game, and, in those types of games, I like to bet on the teams that are better in high-leverage situations. In this case, that’s USC who have a better net third down and red zone scoring rates.

Best Bet #1: USC (-120) at DraftKings Sportsbook, up to -135


Utah Utes (8-2) at Oregon Ducks (8-2)

The Utes enter on a four-game winning streak and have scored at least 42 points in three of those contests. Utah has been more of a defensive-minded ball club under long-time coach Kyle Whittingham but the defense has taken a step back this season.

Oregon had its eight-game winning streak snapped last week in a 37-34 home loss to the Washington Huskies. During their winning streak, the Ducks scored at least 41 points in every game, and Oregon transfer QB Bo Nix leads the Pac-12 in total TDs (39).

The best way to bet Utah-Oregon is hitting the OVER 60.5 (-110). These teams have gone Over the total in five straight meetings, the Utahs are an offensive team this season and the Ducks have one of the best offenses in the nation.

The Oregon Ducks celebrating a touchdown against the California Golden Bears at FTX Field at California Memorial Stadium in Berkeley, California.
The Oregon Ducks celebrating a touchdown against the California Golden Bears at FTX Field at California Memorial Stadium in Berkeley, California. (Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)

There are several Over-friendly trends for this game as well. Oregon games tend to have high totals. The Ducks are 4-2 Over/Under (O/U) when the total is set at 65 or lower with a +7.3 O/U margin.

Utah games usually have low totals. The Utes are 4-1 O/U since 2021 when the total is set at 60 or higher with a +12.4 O/U margin. Also, Utah has gone Over the total in five of its last six games vs. teams with a winning record.

Lastly, both teams have elite offensive lines that should give their QBs time to go through their progressions and holes for their RBs to run through.

Oregon’s offensive line ranks 1st in QB sacked rate, Utah’s is seventh and each is top-10 in adjusted line yards per snap, according to Football Outsiders.

Best Bet #2: OVER 60.5 in Utah-Oregon at DraftKings Sportsbook, up to 61.5

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Written by Geoff Clark

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