USC TROJANS AT WASHINGTON HUSKIES (-9, 0/U 62.5), Sat., 7:30 p.m. ET
With a College Football Playoff spot within reach, undefeated Washington gets its toughest test yet Saturday night when the Huskies host surging USC.
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Washington (9-0, 6-0 Pac-12) has blown out seven teams and won twice by a touchdown en route to a No. 4 ranking in the playoff standings. QB Jake Browning leads the nation with a ridiculous 202.8 passer rating and is coming off his second six-TD performance in the past four games.
The Trojans are holding opponents to 19 points per game during their five-game win streak.
Redshirt freshman QB Sam Darnold has provided the offensive spark, turning around USC's season from the moment he was inserted against Utah on Sept. 24. In five games since the 31-27 loss at Utah, Darnold has accounted for 19 TDs against three INTs.
The Huskies have covered seven of the past nine meetings, with the past three staying Under.
SPORTS CHEETAH'S TAKE
I want to list some facts about the Washington Huskies that you may or may not be familiar with.
Quarterback Jake Browning has thrown for 34 touchdowns agains three interceptions. Browning has only completed 149 passes all season, which means he is throwing touchdowns on 22.82 percent of his completions. That?s over 7 percent higher than the previous college football record.
Everybody always says Washington's strength is its defense, which ranks 10th nationally, but thanks in part to Browning, the Huskies actually rank third in offensive efficiency.
The USC Trojans rank 11th in offensive efficiency and 35th in defensive efficiency, so on paper it seems like UW has an edge on both sides of the ball.
But when I break down the schools the Huskies have faced so far, I am somewhat worried that their numbers are inflated due to a weak strength of schedule.
I went through my Top 25 teams and didn't find a single Washington opponent that cracked the list. Not only do the Huskies face USC (9th) this Saturday, it's likely they will face two more teams ranked in my Top 20 over the next month (Washington State, Colorado).
We are going to learn a lot about UW in the coming weeks, and it starts Saturday. I think the spread is pretty close to correct, so I won't be getting involved in the game unless the number moved under 7 or over 10.
BookMaker.eu opened at Washington -8, moved up a full point to -9 on Monday and went back down to -8.5 on Thursday.
"Perhaps some of the sharps taking the dog felt like +9 was going to be the ceiling so they grabbed that before it got away," BookMaker odds consultant Scott Cooley said, referring to professional bettors.
"I think we'll see some more sharp USC bets on Saturday, which should drop this further. Not sure where the public will play this weekend: USC is a public team but Washington has the wow factor."
The Trojans won their fifth straight, 45-20 over Oregon, covering as 17-point favorites. USC is on a 4-1 ATS run with all five of those games staying Under.
The Huskies stayed perfect with a 66-27 thrashing of Cal, easily covering as 19-point road faves. Washington improved to 5-4 ATS and the Over cashed for the eighth time in nine games.
SportsLine senior analyst Larry Hartstein has a strong play on the total. Get all SportsLine expert picks on USC-Washington here.