Pumping the brakes is going to be harder and harder around here.
And no, we're not talking about the Bishop Gorman pair of soon-to-be Trojans, Bubba Bolden and Palaie Gaoteote, headed to LA. Thanks for real for those two.
No, we're talking about the Las Vegas oddsmakers. They must be re-running the Rose Bowl these days. Because not much is changing right now, not until spring ball at least.
Although check that. One thing is changing. The line. Make that lines. And they're moving in USC's direction.
Phil Steele was on this first one with the update to the Westgate Las Vegas Resort & Casino odds to win the 2017 national college football championship, something that will have no effect on this non-bettor. As they say, these are for informational and news purposes only. And they are newsworthy -- especially for those with an interest in USC.
These odds are changing since they opened the first week of January. USC then was grouped at 8-1 to win the national title with the threesome of Florida State, Ohio State and Oklahoma behind Alabama at 3-1. USC opponent Texas was 20-1, Pac-12 North favorite Washington 30-1, with 2017 opponents Notre Dame, Stanford,, Washington State, Colorado and Oregon grouped at 60-1.
Last week, those numbers moved. Alabama fell a bit to 7-2 but of the four as second choices, only USC moved up -- to 7-1 and the No. 2 pick all by itself. Florida State, Ohio State and Oklahoma stayed at 8-1 as the third picks. Michigan (12-1) was next followed by Louisville, LSU and Clemson -- all at 15-1.
Texas and Auburn tied for the 10th spot at 20-1. Not sure why but Penn State stays at 25-1, just out of the Top 10 and a little low for our thinking but they remained ahead of 30-1 Washington.
There was movement both ways in the rest of the USC schedule. Notre Dame moved up to 40-1 and UCLA to 50-1 from 60-1 while Stanford, Oregon and Washington State dropped to 80-1 and Colorado to 100-1. Utah and Arizona State shared big plunges with Utah falling from 100-1 to 200-1 and ASU from 200-1 to 300-1.
And at the really low end of the Power Five program odds come Cal, Arizona, Oregon State all at 500-1. Here are the top teams in Vegas' eyes: 1) Alabama 3-1 then to 7-2 now: 2) USC 8-1 to 7-1; 3) Florida State, Oklahoma and Ohio State, 8-1 stays 8-1; Michigan 12-1 stays 12-1: Louisville 10-1 to 15-1; LSU 12-1 to 15-1; Clemson 20-1 to 15-1; and Texas 20-1 stays 20-1.
One thing that all this means is that USC should be able to sell a ton of tickets, especially season tickets, with the renewal deadline coming up by the end of the month. And with Western Michigan coming off a 13-1 season as the home opener, Stanford in Game 2 at the Coliseum and a Texas team with Tom Herman that everyone is excited about in Game 3, USC has a chance to get off to a flying start at home.
You might be looking at sellout crowds of 90,000 plus for Stanford and Texas with what's riding on those games in what becomes something of a sudden death format when a team has a legitimate shot at the College Football Playoffs. And with Utah and UCLA coming up later at the Coliseum, that could be four 90,000 crowds and an average attendance of well above 85,000 like the good old days.
Why this matters is that this could all be happening in a Coliseum set to be downsized to 77,500 by the 2019 season in a decision by people who have said USC really doesn't need any more capacity than that. The 2017 season may make that lower number harder to support.
A big part of those numbers will belong to the fans of redshirt quarterback Sam Darnold, whose odds to win the Heisman Trophy are going down -- and his favorite's stock going up -- based on these numbers released by another Vegas outfit, the folks at Bovada. Thanks to ESPN Pac-12 blogger Ted Miller for coming up with these.
Bovada shows that Sam has gone from a 9-1 Heisman choice last month to a 4-1 pick today. Pretty amazing leap for Sam who trailed defending Heisman winner Lamar Jackson of Louisville at 7-1 then but Jackson is now down to 13-2. That's the same place as Oklahoma's Baker Mayfield, who went from 11-2 to 13-2, also falling behind Sam. So too did Ohio State's J.T. Barrett, who's gone from 6-1 to 12-1.
Next in line with the current odds at 9-1 and 10-1 respectively are the Alabama pair of RB Bo Scarbrough and QB Jalen Hurts. Penn State's Saquon Barkley and Washington's Jake Browning join OSU's Barrett all at 12-1.
Next at 14-1 are a quartet of QBs -- UCLA's Josh Rosen, Penn State's Trace McSorley, Florida State's Deondre Francois and Oklahoma State's Mason Rudolph. Two more QBs USC will face, Washington State's Luke Falk and Texas' Shane Buechele are tied at 33-1 and No. 17 on the list.
Should be fun, all these quarterback shootouts. Just like the Rose Bowl, when it was Darnold against McSorley in a matchup like ones that could happen at least three or more times in 2017.
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