So does the schedule win out -- or do the Trojans?

The over-under number doesn't look all that good for USC right now but did Vegas get it right for the Trojans?

No way I could ever be a Vegas oddsmaker. I want to know who’s going to win and why. It’s one of those head and heart things.

For me, it's the rooting interest, not an attempt to figure out how to get an equal amount of money on each side of the line but to get the game right – if, that is, I'd ever bet, which I don’t. The more you know, the more you know you shouldn’t.

For me, the game itself is enough excitement. Don’t need to have any money on the game.

But there are plenty who don’t look at it that way which is why when the Golden Nugget sports book released its 2016 over/under numbers for the top college football programs the other day, there was a great deal of buzz.

One reason for Trojan fans: USC’s number was way down at 7.5, even considering the nation’s consensus toughest schedule. Bet $120 and if USC wins eight games, you win another $100. Not a bad bet, says this not-a-bettor.

But what has heads exploding hereabouts are the numbers for the rest of the top teams, especially the ones on USC’s schedule. Stanford is at 8. Oregon 8.5, UCLA and Notre Dame 9 each and Alabama 9.5.

Now let’s face it, these numbers are low. Heck, if Bama doesn’t win 10 games, the Crimson Tide will be more than a little blue. And yes, every one of those teams, with weaker schedules than USC’s, could lose to the Trojans, as we believe several will, and still hit those numbers.

And maybe this is the time to strike for you West Coast bettors out there. We were listening to the nation’s highest-profile oddsmaker, Danny Sheridan, an Alabama grad, on The Paul Finebaum Show. And it was clear, and Sheridan pretty much admitted it, that the Pac-12 is kind of terra incognita for Sheridan, who can recite the Bama depth chart down to the third team. He “hadn’t studied” the Pac-12 all that much, he said.

So it’s no surprise, for a lot of reasons, that the top numbers in the nation, as much a tribute to their schedules and the league and/or division they’re in as their talent right now, are the 10’s for Clemson, Oklahoma, Florida State and Tennessee. Michigan and LSU are at 9.5. And yes, we have a take on every one of those, some we agree with, some not.  

But for most of us here, that’s not the point, the USC game is. And that gets us to the USC number. It’s simply too low even among the list of all low numbers. Obviously someone, a number of someones, will win more than 10 games.

Sorry, but no way do you pick Oregon or Notre Dame right now in the Coliseum over USC. If there’s one thing that will change under Clay Helton, thanks to the combination of the ability to run the football on offense and attack on defense, the Coliseum home field edge should be back.

That’s something we feel pretty confident about. And then there’s this. Just take the preseason Top 25’s  released on the newsstands today with the arrival of The Sporting News and Athlon preseason college football magazines. USC is No. 15 in the TSN Top 25 but that would give them only a 9-3 record if all matchups hold true since Bama is No. 1, Stanford No. 9 and Notre Dame No. 10.

But if you go with Athlon, which has USC No. 23, the Trojans finish 7-5 and “under” with losses to Bama (No. 1), Notre Dame (8) Washington (11), Stanford (12) and UCLA (15).

So what we know is that this is a season when no one knows. Although USC fans will have to like the take of Fox Sports' Aaron Torres when he saw the USC number at 7.5.

Here it is: Talk about stealing: Someone should take us all away in handcuffs for getting the Trojans at over 7.5 wins. Earlier this week I made the case that USC is a dark horse playoff contender. Yes, USC has to figure out who their quarterback is, but they also return their top two rushers from last season, arguably the top wide receiver in the country (JuJu Schuster-Smith) and quite possibly the best defensive backfield in college football.

“The schedule is tough, but who would you say is definitively better than the Trojans in the Pac-12? Even an opener against Alabama doesn't seem as tough as even a week ago, with the Cam Robinson saga continuing to unfold.”

So there. Take the over.

Then wait until tomorrow when we get into the guts of the magazines’ commentary about the Trojans. Some interesting stuff.

You can follow me on Twitter at @dweber3440 or email me at

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