Daily Bet: Hawaii (+42) at USC (Saturday)

How’s that for a start to the college football season? Three opening-night selections, three winners, as BYU’s defense dominated Washington State (just as I said it would) in a 30-6 rout, while UNLV and Vanderbilt both covered the number (and nearly sprung stunning outright upsets) against Minnesota and South Carolina, respectively. On top of that, I’ve nailed three straight “Daily Bet” winners, as well.

Let’s pad the bankroll some more by looking ahead to Saturday’s action and playing Hawaii plus the big points at USC. This was my top play in this week’s “Going for Broke” column in Vegas Seven, and I’ll repeat what I said there: It’s more important for Trojans coach Lane Kiffin, who has a national championship-caliber roster but very little depth, to give his young, inexperienced backups some playing time in a blowout than it is to win this game by 60 points. Some of those second- and third-stringers are going to be counted on down the road this season, so it’s crucial that Kiffin and his staff evaluate those players in a game-like setting.

Make no mistake: USC is going to beat Hawaii, which is a team in transition with a new coach and a new quarterback, by a comfortable margin—frankly, the Trojans could name the score if they were so inclined. I just don’t think they will be, since to do so would be to put star players at unnecessary injury risk. In the end, look for USC to be cruising by 35-plus points going into the fourth quarter before Kiffin calls off the dogs, giving Hawaii the chance to put up some garbage-time points and cover this big number.

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★

Thursday’s Result: BYU (-11½) vs. Washington State (Win)

Record: 40-33

Today’s pick from the Aug. 23 “Going for Broke” column: Boise State +7 at Michigan State

Saturday’s picks from Aug. 30 “Going for Broke” column: Hawaii +40 (now +42) at USC; Miami (Ohio) +23½ (now +24½) at Ohio State; Oklahoma -30½ (now -30) at UTEP; Michigan +13½ (now +14) vs. Alabama; Auburn +3½ (now +3) vs. Clemson; Navy +16½ (now +15) vs. Notre Dame; Penn State -6 (now -6½) vs. Ohio; Wyoming +30 (now +31½) at Texas.