USC vs. Washington State betting preview and pick – Trojans lay a touchdown on road

kessler-cody-100114-getty-ftr

Washington State is coming off its fourth home loss of the season, while USC fell to 5-3 SU and ATS with a loss at Utah. The Cougars look to snap a three-game losing streak when they host the Trojans Saturday in a Pac-12 showdown (4:30 p.m. ET, PACN).

The Line: USC -7, Total: 64.5

Line movement: The Trojans opened as 8-point favorites at The Wynn on Sunday night before quickly dropping to -7. For updated spreads and totals from around Las Vegas, visit our live odds page .

Trends that matter: USC is 5-12 ATS in its last 17 road games....USC is 6-2 SU in its last eight road games and 7-1 SU in its last eight games at Washington State.....The OVER is 5-0 in the Trojans’ last five games at Washington State.

Washington State is 3-6 ATS in its last nine games against USC and 3-7 ATS in its last 10 home games.....Washington State is 1-5 SU in its last six home games.....The OVER is 9-1 in the Cougars’ last 10 home games.

Head to head, the road team is 4-0 ATS and the OVER is 4-0 in the last four meetings.

When these teams last met in Sept. 2013, the Cougars came out on top in a low-scoring game (10-7). Washington State covered as 16-point road dogs, and the total went way UNDER the 54-point projection.

Another last second loss? Just three weeks after losing on a Hail Mary pass to Arizona State (38-34), the Trojans (5-3 SU and ATS) fell to the Utes when quarterback Travis Wilson threw a touchdown pass in the final eight seconds to lift Utah over USC (24-21). The Trojans failed to cover as a 1-point road favorite.

The Trojans gained just 44 total yards through the second and third quarters before a 73-yard touchdown drive led by quarterback Cody Kessler in the fourth quarter put USC ahead by four. After head coach Steve Sarkisian opted out of a 45-yard field goal with senior Andre Heidari, who missed the last two games with a groin injury, the Utes answered back for the win.

“This is not a new situation,” USC linebacker Su’a Cravens said . “It kills morale. It sucks to lose like this. But we’re a football team. We’ll be back at it next week.”

Kessler finished 24-of-32 for 264 yards with two touchdowns and a pick in the third quarter. Running back Javorius Allen had 101 yards on 27 carries, finishing with 100 rushing yards for the seventh time this year. The Trojans also got a boost from their receivers, with Nelson Agholor racking up 110 yards on 10 catches, and JuJu Smith getting 77 yards and one touchdown on six catches. Defensively, the Trojans are allowing an average of 23.2 points per game and have forced 14 turnovers.

By dropping to 4-2 in the Pac-12, USC has put itself in a troubling situation. A win over Washington State is imperative to stay alive in the race for the Pac-12 South division title and a bid to the conference championship.

Halliday coming in hot: Despite outgaining Arizona 543-451 with an additional nine minutes of possession, Washington State (2-6 SU and 3-4-1 ATS) still fell to the Wildcats (59-37) and failed to cover as 4-point home dogs. The Cougars didn't show up on time, allowing the Wildcats a 24-0 head start in the first quarter.

Quarterback Connor Halliday, the nation’s leading passer with 3,833 yards, finished 56-of-79 for 489 yards with four touchdowns and two interceptions. He became Washington State’s leading career passer with a whopping 11,268 yards. Although the Cougars gained just 54 yards on 20 rushes, wide receiver Vince Mayle had 14 catches for 145 yards and one touchdown, while Isiah Myers had six catches for 95 yards and two touchdowns.

Washington State’s offense leads the nation in passing with an average 490 yards per game, passing on about 80 percent of its plays. Its defense, however, leaves more to be desired after surrendering 60 points to California and 59 points to Arizona in back-to-back home losses.

Injuries that matter: USC offensive tackle Chad Wheeler (knee) is out for the season after tearing his ACL in the Trojans’ loss to Utah. Defensive end J.R. Tavai (knee) is out for several weeks while safety Gerald Bowman (foot) is expected to play Saturday.

Weather: The forecast calls for cold temperatures around 46 degrees. Cloudy skies, a 40 percent chance of rain and winds of 10 to 20 mph are expected. Visit Weather Underground for the latest forecast.

Handicapping help: Matchup analysis | Power Ratings | USC team page | WSU team page

The Linemakers’ lean: We have a home team that throws practically every down and puts up little resistance defensively.  USC QB Cody Kessler, meanwhile, is having one of the best, quietest years of anyone in the country (70.2 percent completions, 8.1 ypp, 20 TDs, 2 INTs).  Overall, the Trojans have not been that impressive on offense, but a game against this defense may be just the tonic they need.  The Cougars are 34-16-1 to the OVER in their last 51 home games, and we'll ride that trend on Saturday.  OVER is the play.

Sign up for The Linemakers’ free newsletter and follow us on Twitter .