USC @ Oregon State
Oregon State +185 over USC

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Posted at 6:15 AM EST and odds are subject to change.

USC @ Oregon State +185

Reser Stadium – Corvallis, OR

Streaming: Pac-12 Network

9:30 PM EST. USC is a team that has been in our crosshairs because we are acutely aware of how the market digests this blue-blood program on a regular basis and how it chomps at the bit to back the Trojans by virtue of their pedigree. When we add that into the high-profile transfers and coaching hire that catalyzed the Trojans in the off-season, this penchant is only enhanced further. When we incorporate USC’s top-10 ranking and undefeated marks against the spread and straight up, the premium to get behind the Trojans is at a maximum. Yet once again, we find a top-10 side spotting less than a converted touchdown to an unranked home dog. This is a prevailing motif in Week 4 and we’re not letting up.

Oregon State is not the Oregon State that one could recall in recent times, yet the market has not caught up to them just yet. The Beavers first three showings in 2022 have been as impressive as many teams in the country but yet when the market looks at this situation, they see the titans of the Pac-12, who perhaps are a College Football Playoff contender, priced in an irresistible range against a team that has only one .500 season since 2013 (which was last year) and preceding 2021, never won more than five games in any of those campaigns. None of that incidentally is pertinent here. Let’s break down Oregon State’s resume.

A 34-17 season opening win in Corvallis against a Boise State team that was supposed to “be back”. OSU won going away. The Beavers would follow that up with a 35-32 win at Fresno State. A 68-28 shelling of visiting Montana State as a 17½-point choice in Corvallis last week wraps up the Beavers first three games. Incidentally, Montana State, though a FCS team, is ranked #4 in the FCS polls and they were the runner-up for the National Championship in the 2021-22 season yet the Beavers made quick work of them. It is also worth noting that Fresno State is a team that has been hovering around the top-25 or positioned just outside of it at various points for the last two seasons. Winning in “The Valley'' is also hard to come by, yet Oregon State took care of that problem.

The reason successful rebuilding jobs often break through in year 3-4 has as much to do with buy-in and belief as it does roster-building. When new staffs take over struggling programs that have been down a while, they often have to battle a certain pessimism and tolerance for losing. Most players at least try to buy into the new coach's ways and allow themselves to be coached, but at first, the team must be coach-led. Initially, the upperclassmen are cultural rookies just like the freshmen, but after a couple of seasons, the juniors and seniors are well-indoctrinated veterans of the coaching style, the schemes and everything else that was once new. Then those guys start teaching the younger players, and the team becomes player-led.

Then, real belief follows results. When mere improvement the first couple years turns into a 4-0 start or big non-conference win in Year 3 or 4, the players start believing anything the coaches tell them, and thinking that they really are special. When that kind of intangible growth is accompanied by a team's rebuilt roster finally coming together, that's how breakout seasons, surprise division championships and 10-2 ATS records are born.

Jonathan Smith arrived here in 2017 and but in year four (2020) the pandemic ruined everything. If we throw out two years of pandemic restrictions and limitations, we can pick up last year where Smith led the Beavers to a 7-5 record but Oregon State wasn’t far off from going 12-0. Its biggest loss was by a mere 9 points (twice), once to Purdue and once to #11 Oregon. The other losses were all by one score. That’s how close the Beavers were to being 12-0.

Oregon State is 3-0 ATS this year (so is USC) but there might be more gold in the vein. That's because the Beavers are benefiting from buy-in approaching critical mass, from being truly player-led for the first time in their head coaches' tenure. Each victory further validates the coaches' messages and plans to win, and teams like this often keep rolling until the mainstream media finally takes notice. The window to buy low on Oregon State will close quickly so we’ll get in before it does.

Our Pick

Oregon State +185 (Risking 2 units - To Win: 3.70)