College football betting handicappers will have quite a challenge in evaluating the prospects of USC as the Trojans could be a tricky commodity to bet on college football with.
USC opens the 2010 season at Hawaii Thursday with kickoff set for 11:05 PM Eastern. Sports-Gambling.com opened with USC as a 21-point chalk and a total of 53.
Head coach Pete Carroll has left the program after a highly successful 10-year run that ended in disgrace as the program has been put on NCAA probation and is ineligible to bowl this year as well as having 30 scholarships cut.
New coach Lane Kiffin will have the supreme challenge of trying to motivate his team that is highly talented but also not eligible to win the Pac-10 Conference championship.
USC has 5 starters back on both sides of the line led by sophomore quarterback Matt Barkley, who had an up and down freshman year as the starter last year. Barkley should be improved after his trial by fire season last year that ended with injuries. Barkley passed for 2735 yards and a 15/14 TD/INT ratio.
The Trojans alarmed NCAA betting handicappers with their sharp drop in production on both sides of the line last year and their overall mark of 4-9 against the spread while going 9-4 straight up.
USC last met Hawaii in the 2005 season opener and clobbered the Warriors 63-17 as 36-point chalks.
USC has gone 13-3 with the college football odds in non conference action since 2006 but has covered just 3 out of 12 games against the spread as road favorites the past 2 seasons.
The Hawaii Warriors continue to slip under 3rd year head coach Greg McMackin, who took over after their epic 2007 season in which they went 12-1 and in the Sugar Bowl. Hawaii finished 6-7 last year and returns 5 starters on offense led by junior quarterback Bryant Moniz while 7 starters return on defense.
Moniz’s inconsistency was one of the reasons for Hawaii’s college football betting struggles last year but improvement is expected.
While USC is talented the probation issue is a huge cloud over the season.
“Depth in general is going to be an issue,” said Kiffin. “We have to be extremely intelligent and smart.”