Points Likely Scarce in USC-Texas Tussle

Sports Betting Resources predicts a low-scoring contest with dominating defense when football bluebloods No. 22 USC and Texas clash in Austin Saturday night. Betting preview and pick here.

No. 22 USC vs. Texas

Opening Line: Longhorns -3
Opening Total: 49
Kickoff: 8 p.m. ET (FOX)
Site: Royal Texas Memorial Stadium

Line Movement

The opening line has drifted back and forth between -3 and -3.5 for Texas, despite nearly 65 percent of tickets across the major online sportsbooks backing USC as of Wednesday afternoon . The total has fallen to 48 over a two-day period from a 49 opener, moving in conjunction with public sympathies (53 percent of bets).

Prediction Analysis

USC (1-1 SU, 0-2 ATS) is coming off a 17-3 loss at then-No. 9 Stanford last week, its lowest offensive output since 1997. Market conditions suggest the Trojans could be in for more scoring woes Saturday. They are 1-9 SU and ATS as the betting underdog under head coach Clay Helton, mustering a measly 17.4 points per game. This is the first time catching points against an unranked opponent, however.

Helton’s defense is playing well to begin the year, led by a pair of NFL-quality linebackers: two-time team tackle leader ILB Cameron Smith and OLB Porter Guston. Returning seven starters from last year, the unit has held opponents under their projected team total in five of its last eight games (-4.7 average).

Texas (1-1 SU. 0-2 ATS), meanwhile, has never defeated the Trojans in five prior meetings, including last year’s 27-24 double-overtime loss. The Longhorns went off 17-point underdogs in that matchup, just the third under then-new head coach Tom Herman.

Texas has proven a good bet in expected close games since, going 4-1 SU and 4-0-1 ATS with a line in-between a touchdown. The defense is surrendering 16.8 points per game in this spot with the offense putting up 25.6 overall. The UNDER is 4-1 with a whopping -15.7 margin (58.1 average total). The betting public, oddsmakers, and the like, may still be trying to catch up.

Pick: UNDER 48

USC’s offense had to replace its top statistical playmakers for the first time since 2008, including the program’s only 4,000-yard passer (Sam Darnold), its leading rusher (Ronald Jones), and top receiver (Deontay Burnett). It accrued just 4.5 yards per play against the Cardinal, and face a Longhorns defense yielding 22.1 points per game since the start of 2017. Couple this with a Trojans defense coming off a superb effort in Palo Alto, and offense on both sides will misfire.

The UNDER has hit in all five games Herman has squared off against ranked opponents. The wager is also a lucrative 12-2-1 in games in which Helton leads USC against unranked Power 5 opponents. In all 20 contests combined, only three opponents reached their projected points output. Odds are, defense will dominate in this tussle. One, if not both squads, will be lucky to uncover a pair of touchdowns.

Projected Score: USC 26-14