USC vs Utah

The Pac-12 is in primetime this week, as the no. 7 USC Trojans visit the no. 20 Utah Utes. The Utes won this matchup last year, although the Trojans beat Utah during their last trip to Salt Lake City in 2020. For this game, the Utes are 3.5-point home favorites, with the over/under set at 65 points.

Lincoln Riley’s tenure at USC has been a smashing success thus far. The Trojans have started the season 6-0, already going 4-0 in conference play. While their toughest games are still ahead of them, five of USC’s wins this season have come by at least 13 points with Oregon State the only team to keep things close.

On the other hand, Utah could have a hard time returning to the Pac-12 Championship Game with a loss this week. The Utes already have a non-conference loss to Florida and lost a conference game to UCLA last week. With a road trip to Oregon still on the schedule, this could be a must-win game for Utah’s conference title hopes.

Rise and Fall

The Utah defense deserves most of the blame for last week’s loss to UCLA, giving up 42 points while being shredded both on the ground and through the air. To be fair, a couple of turnovers by the offense didn’t help, putting the Utah defense in a bad position. It was also an uncharacteristic performance by the Utes, who have allowed just 23 total points in their two home games this year against FBS opponents.

The good news is the Utah offense has been consistent all season, averaging 33.8 points per game against FBS opponents. Tavion Thomas is one of the top running backs in the Pac-12 and has averaged over five yards per carry in two of Utah’s three Pac-12 games. Quarterback Cameron Rising is also an important part of the rushing attack and has been a reliable passer, completing 69% of his passes with 13 touchdowns and just three interceptions.

Transfer U

It’s a group of transfers who are carrying the USC offense thus far. Oklahoma transfer Caleb Williams already has 14 touchdown passes and just one interception in his first six games with the Trojans. He’s made Pitt transfer Jordan Addison his top receiver while Oregon transfer Travis Dye and Stanford transfer Austin Jones have taken over the USC backfield, both averaging over six yards per carry.

Defensively, the results have been a little more mixed with the Trojans allowing at least 25 points in two of the team’s four conference games. To be fair, some of those points came during garbage time of wins over Stanford and Arizona State. However, USC has allowed at least 14 points in every game, as the Trojans haven’t exactly dominated defensively against a relatively weak schedule.

Proving Ground

This will be by far USC’s toughest game of the season. Their offense full of transfers will have to play together in a hostile environment while the USC defense will be tested by a balanced Utah offense. Given the small spread, bet on Utah to pull off a close win and cover the spread at home.

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