USC has stormed to their conference championship game on the shoulders of Caleb Williams. The quarterback has been electric down the stretch, as he strolled to three rushing touchdowns against a good Notre Dame defense.
Barring an awful performance against Utah in the Pac-12 Championship game, Williams will win the Heisman (-3000 at FanDuel). However, there are two reasons that USC is overrated despite the brilliance of Williams.
First, turnovers. The Trojans are +23 in turnovers this season. This is nine turnovers better than the next best teams in FBS football.
Randomness plays a huge role in turnovers, and USC will not continue to average almost two turnovers per game better than their opponent. And not surprisingly, these turnovers have helped them to their 11-1 record.
For example, UCLA looked like they had USC beat. Late in the fourth quarter, they had the ball down three, and UCLA had run up and down the field all game against USC.
On the move again, UCLA QB Dorian Thompson-Robinson threw a pick to end the game. USC was +3 in turnovers for the game against UCLA.
As another example, Notre Dame QB Drew Pyne fumbled deep in USC territory last week. Without this turnover, and maybe with a Notre Dame conversion on 4th and 1 at the USC 27 yard line early in the game, the outcome could have been different. Instead, USC cruised to an easy 38-27 win.
Second, USC has an atrocious defense. By my adjusted success rate, they rank 103rd in the nation.
USC came into the season with questions on defense, and new coach Lincoln Riley looked to transfers to fix the problem. It hasn’t worked. Russell Wilson is watching the USC defense to feel better about his season.
Both Utah and USC will bring an offense and defense to the Pac-12 championship game. The USC defense will by far be the worst unit on the field.
The markets have USC -2.5, but my member numbers like Utah to win outright. Could Caleb Williams make Utah’s defense look silly on the way to a win and cover? Maybe. But regression in turnovers and an awful defense suggest value on Utah +3, a number still available at some sports books as of Thursday.
Football betting with a PhD edge
This article was sent to The Power Rank’s email newsletter on Thursday, December 1, 2022 at 1pm Eastern.
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