Book it Mann: Week 4 – Utah (-4) at USC

(Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports)


In the last Book It Mann, the play I was on was another loser (UNC ML). However, if you paid attention to the section about “live betting” you should have been able to profit or push on that game. I was able to snag UNC at +6, +9.5, and +21.5. The Tar Heels showed resilience and came back late again to lose by only 6.

One key to being able to grab these live lines is to not over-extend your bankroll on the initial play. Often times I will have several smaller bets on one game with several different lines.

The other plays I recommended included winners with TCU, Kansas State and Temple. The lone loser was Michigan State 1H. This brings the recomended plays record to 8-10 overall but Kansas State was a huge ML winner. If you followed me on Twitter (@jamamann1995), I recommended more winners such as BYU, who won outright as an underdog.

Utah QB Tyler Huntley has the Ute offense humming



The Utah offense has hummed along so far statistically averaging 0.542 points per play and 6.5 yards per play. These numbers both rank in the Top 30 in the country and measure the effectiveness of the offense.

Tyler Huntley is playing well at quarterback, throwing for 602 yards on 54 attempts. That is an astonishing 11.1 yards per attempt. While the numbers are impressive, the opponents (aside from BYU) are not. Going on the road to start conference play should pose a bigger challenge for Huntley’s offense.

With guys like DL Bradlee Anae laying the wood, the Utes defense is A-OK – (photo:Jeff Swinger-USA TODAY Sports)

The Utah defense has been almost as excellent as the offense. Defensively the Utes are keeping teams out of the end-zone allowing 0.250 points per play (29th). They do give up more yards per play then you would expect at 5.2 (58th).

The run defense has been the strength on the defensive side of the ball allowing just 3.4 yards per rush. Against their toughest opponent in BYU, they gave up 4.2 yards per rush.

Trojan WR Tyler Vaughns will look for the end zone vs the stingy Ute defense



After starting quarterback JT Daniels was injured in Week 1, USC needed freshman Kedon Slovis to step up. Slovis was extremely effective in his first two appearances vs Fresno State and Stanford. In those games, he averaged 10.6 yards per attempt. In Slovis’s first road start at BYU, he struggled, throwing 3 interceptions. One thing we learned from all of the games last week is that true freshman quarterbacks tend to struggle in their first road start.

Offensively, USC is averaging 6.3 yards per play (32nd) and 0.464 points per play (35th). These are reasonably impressive numbers considering the quarterback situation and the quality of opponents. The key for the offense this week and going forward is to protect the football. If they can do that, their team will dramatically improve.

USC S Talanoa Hufanga is a playmaker for the Trojans

The USC defense is giving up 0.320 points per play (47th) and 5.4 yards per play (65th). Considering the quality of the opponents, this looks like an average defense. However, it is likely those numbers could improve if the offense stops turning the ball over and putting them in bad situations.

Against BYU, the Trojans actually gave up less yards per carry than the Utes did against BYU. USC gave up 3.3 yards per carry compared to 4.2 for the Utes against that common opponent.

The Pick

When I first saw this line, I immediately thought to bet Utah before diving into it. The Utes are 3-0 and have been more effective on both sides of the ball. They shared a common opponent in BYU and Utah finished with a comfortable victory, while USC lost in overtime. Utah has the more proven coach and an experienced quarterback.

After looking more in depth, I noticed that Utah was favored by 5 in Week 1 vs BYU while USC was favored by 4.5 at BYU. I believe this is notable because they odds-makers priced these teams as essentially equals last week.

The circumstances were much more favorable for Utah against BYU than they were for USC against BYU. Utah has an experienced team and a coach that was familiar with that team during the off-season. USC had a true freshman quarterback and less experienced coach in their first road game of the season.

Typically, I don’t like backing the Trojans, but I’m going against the grain here. This looks like a massive overreaction in the market. Utah benefited against BYU by going +3 in turnover margin, while USC was -3 in takeaways vs the Cougs. Give me the Trojans +4 and sprinkle on the ML.

Other Bets:

App State ML ⭐⭐

Pitt +12

Wisky -3

Georgia 1H (look live) or Full Game -14 ⭐ (not both)

Ole Miss -2.5 ⭐⭐

A&M -4 and 1H