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How Utah Ended Up an Underdog to USC

It's not common for a top-five team to be an underdog, but the USC-Utah game is historically rare.

Since the 1950s, medical school faculty has taught students, “When you hear hoofbeats, think of horses, not zebras.”

The saying essentially holds that when trying to diagnosis a problem: rely on the obvious rather than the exotic or overcomplicated.

The concept comes in handy in sports wagering and certainly came to mind this week as I was perusing college football spreads. One line stood out: USC -3.5 hosting Utah.

The casual observer might rightly ask, “How is the third best team in the country getting points from a 3-3 USC team?”

Utah has beaten Michigan, California, and Arizona State, and boatraced Oregon. The Trojans only defeated Arkansas State, Idaho, and Arizona State.

More than just curious, the line is borderline historic.

Chris Fallica, ESPN's college football picking guru, this week quoted ESPN Stats & Info research finding that only one other time in the last 20 years has a team ranked in the AP top five been a 3.5-point underdog or larger.  

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