Western Michigan Broncos (13-1) at USC Trojans (10-3)
College Football: Saturday, September 2, 2017 at 5:15 pm (Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum)
The Line: USC Trojans -22 -- Over/Under: 55 Click to Get Latest Betting Odds
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The Western Michigan Broncos will travel to Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum to take on the 4th ranked USC Trojans this Saturday night in College Football action.
The Western Michigan Broncos had one of the best seasons in school history last season finishing their year with a 13-1 overall record which included a MAC Championship and trip to the Cotton Bowl in which they were defeated by the Wisconsin Badgers 24-16. Western Michigan will have a new head coach in Tim Lester who replaces the popular P.J. Fleck who took over the head coaching duties at Minnesota. Western Michigan had one of the better offenses in the country, averaging 41.6 ppg (ranked 9th) on 481.2 total yards per game, however, Western Michigan will need to find replacements for both QB Zach Terrell and WR Corey Davis. QB Jon Wassink beat out Joe Flacco in spring practice to earn the starting job under center for the Broncos. Wassink’s main receiving threats will be D’Wayne Eskridge (10.1 yds/g; TD) and Keishawn Watson. Leading the Broncos backfield will be duo of Jarvion Franklin (17.7 att/g, 96.6 yds/g, 12 TD) and Jamauri Bogan (16.3 att/g, 83.9 yds/g, 8 TD). Defensively, Western Michigan held their opponents to an average of 19.8 ppg on 353.6 total yards per game. The Broncos return 7 defensive starters and will be led by LB Robert Spillane and DB Darius Phillips.
The 4th ranked USC Trojans started last season slow, going just 1-3 in their first four games, however, finished the year winning 9 straight games which included a thrilling 52-49 victory over Penn State in the Rose Bowl. USC finished last season averaging 34.4 ppg (ranked 36th) on 477.1 total yards per game (276.4 passing yds/g; 200.7 rushing yds/g). The Trojans offense will be led by Heisman Trophy favorite, QB Sam Darnold who finished last season completing 67.2% of his passes with 31 TD’s and 9 INT while averaging 237.4 passing yds/game. Darnold lost his top receiver threats from last season in JuJu Smith-Schuster and Darreus Rogers however, still have some outstanding players in Deontay Burnett (4.3 rec/g, 47.8 yds/g, 7 TD) and TE Daniel Imatorbhebhe (1.3 rec/g, 19.2 yds/g, 4 TD). Leading the Trojans backfield will be RB Ronald Jones II who had 12 TD and averaged 83.2 rushing yds/g. Defensively, USC returns 7 starters from a defense that held opponents to an average of 24.2 ppg on 367.2 total yards per game. The Trojans defense will hope that freshman Marlon Tuipulotu can help solidify the DL and will rely heavily on veteran stars, LB Cameron Smith and DB Iman Marshall.
The Broncos are 10-1 ATS in their last 11 games in September and 16-5 ATS in their last 21 road games. The Trojans are 6-1 ATS in their last 7 games overall and 5-1 ATS in their last 6 games on grass.
Western Michigan had a great run last season, however, this will be a much different season for the Broncos who not only lost their head coach but the majority of the offensive talent. USC looked like one of the best teams in the country last season and as they come back strong in basically every skilled position, including having the best QB in the country in Sam Darnold, the Trojans are primed to make a run for the National Championship. Western Michigan will have to rely on their defense this season to be competitive however, the Broncos are going to struggled slowing down the high-powered USC offense and as I don’t trust an inexperienced offense to score much on the Trojans, I think USC is the clear pick in this one. Take USC to cover.