USC is a massive favorite on Friday night.
The No. 8 Trojans make their 2022 Friday night debut in Week 11 and the game shouldn’t be close. USC takes on moribund Colorado at home and is a 34.5-point favorite (9:30 p.m. ET, FS1).
The line makes a lot of sense. Caleb WIlliams is one of the favorites to win the Heisman Trophy in his first season at USC as the Trojan offense is averaging over seven yards per play so far this season. Williams is completing 65% of his passes and has thrown 28 TDs to just one interception. RB Travis Dye has rushed for over 850 yards and Jordan Addison has 39 catches for 585 yards despite missing the last two games. He’s set to be back on Friday night.
The USC defense has been very good at forcing turnovers. But that’s about the only think it’s been good at doing so far this season. USC has forced 2.1 turnovers per game so far while the offense hardly turns it over. That’s a great recipe for success. But the USC defense is allowing over six yards a play and has given up at least 35 points in each of its last three games.
Oklahoma fans became familiar with those shootouts in Lincoln Riley’s time with the Sooners. And if it’s any consolation for USC fans, it’ll be a stunner if Colorado puts up a ton of points.
The 1-8 Buffaloes are scoring fewer than 16 points per game this season. Only two teams at the top level of college football score less than Colorado. The Colorado offense averages less than five yards per play and barely 300 yards per game thanks to a passing attack that’s struggled to get going. Colorado has played three quarterbacks so far and they’ve combined to complete just over 50% of their passes for less than 1,700 yards.
But are you willing to lay five touchdowns if you take USC against the spread? Remember, USC has a massive game in Week 12 looming against cross-town rival UCLA.
Another big game happens in the AAC on Friday night. East Carolina travels to Cincinnati (8 p.m. ET, ESPN2) where the Bearcats are 5-point favorites. Cincinnati is tied for second in the AAC with UCF and a game back of Tulane. With Tulane and UCF set to play each other on Saturday, Cincinnati could find itself in a three-way tie for first if it beats the Pirates and UCF knocks off Tulane.
ECU has longshot AAC title hopes of its own. The Pirates already beat UCF this season and are just a game back of the Bearcats and Knights. A Tulane win and an ECU win this weekend puts the Pirates in a tie for second in the conference and in a good spot to make the AAC title game with an undefeated finish to the season.
We’re inclined to take ECU and the points given Cincinnati’s tendency to play close games this season. The Bearcats’ biggest AAC wins this season are by 10 points and both came against teams in the bottom half of the conference. Cincy beat USF by four at home and SMU by two on the road and lost by four to UCF. While we wouldn’t be surprised if ECU wins outright, we feel better about taking the five.
The last game of the night is in Las Vegas as UNLV hosts Fresno State (10:30 p.m. ET, CBSSN). Fresno State is a 9.5-point favorite on the road as UNLV enters the game on a four-game losing streak and Fresno comes in on a four-game win streak. The Rebels were 4-1 after a win to New Mexico in Week 5 but now have to win two of their last three games to get to a bowl.
With games against Hawaii and Nevada remaining, we think that’s possible. And wouldn’t be surprised if UNLV covers the spread on Friday night. The Rebels’ offense is finally getting healthy again. Fresno State and QB Jake Haener should get the win and bowl eligibility, but UNLV should prevent this from being a blowout.
Michigan State vs. Gonzaga
The biggest college basketball game of the night is in San Diego as Michigan State and Gonzaga take part in the Armed Forces Classic (6:30 p.m. ET, ESPN). The Zags are 11.5-point favorites over the Spartans in their first game of a tough three-game stretch. Gonzaga takes on Texas and Kentucky after playing Michigan State and also faces Baylor in the first week of December.
Eight NBA games
There’s some fun NBA action on tap Friday night. The Denver Nuggets are 4.5-point underdogs at the Boston Celtics (7 p.m. ET, NBATV) in a potential NBA Finals preview. Both teams are 8-3 as Denver’s Nikola Jokic is nearly averaging a triple-double and Boston’s Jayson Tatum is averaging 31 points per game.
Minnesota also travels to Memphis (9:30 p.m. ET, ESPN) in a playoff rematch. The Wolves are 5.5-point underdogs as they’ve gotten off to a sluggish start this season with Rudy Gobert manning the lane.
Who cashed tickets Thursday?
It was not a Thursday night for close football games. The Carolina Panthers easily beat the Atlanta Falcons and covered the spread as an underdog in a 25-15 win to give the Tampa Bay Buccaneers an even bigger advantage in a terrible NFC South. Memphis easily covered as a favorite in a 26-10 win over Tulsa that featured a ton of unsportsmanlike conduct penalties and Louisiana also easily covered at home in a 36-17 win over Georgia Southern.