Game Of The Week: No. 3 Utah at USC
One would figure that an undefeated top five team would be a heavy favorite against a struggling .500 opponent. As Lee Corso would say, “Not so fast, my friend!” The Los Angeles Coliseum will be rocking on Saturday as the hometown USC Trojans (3-3) host the No. 3 Utah Utes (6-0) in a crucial Pac-12 South showdown. The Utes, coming off of a 34-18 victory over Arizona State, will look to keep their dream season rolling. Southern California will try to bounce back from a 41-31 loss to rival Notre Dame.
The visiting side is led by a tremendous offense, featuring quarterback Travis Wilson and running back Devontae Booker. Wilson, who can also beat defenses with his legs, has 980 passing yards on the season and has tossed seven touchdowns. Booker, one of the nation’s top backs, is 12th in America with 783 rushing yards and eight trips to the end zone. He is the bell cow of this offense and should have the biggest impact on the game. On the other side of the ball, the Utah defense is only allowing 19.5 points per game. In a game that could come down to special teams, the visitors possess kicker Andy Phillips and punter Tom Hackett, both of who are top-notch players.
USC will rely heavily on the right arm of Cody Kessler. Kessler, a top NFL quarterback prospect, has thrown for 1,818 yards and 17 touchdowns. While his favorite target, JuJu Smith-Schuster, is a major threat, the Trojans have three receivers who are dinged up. The home side’s 3-4 defense could present some issues for their opponent, especially if the defensive line is able to get into the backfield. The name to look out for on this side of the ball is Adoree Jackson. The speedy sophomore, who will also see some time on offense and special teams, anchors the secondary from the safety position. He has the ability to keep up with Utah’s athletic receivers and can also make plays in the box to shut down the rushing attack.
While the Utes are 4-9 all-time versus the Trojans, they have had recent success. Last season, Utah squeaked out a 24-21 victory against USC behind a last-second touchdown toss by Travis Wilson.
USC is a 3.5 point favorite in this matchup.
PREDICTION: Utah: 24, USC: 21
Jonathan Gross is a freshman majoring in broadcast journalism and international politics. To contact him, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org