After a subpar performance against Stanford, USC looks to get back into the win column with a win at Utah. Here are our staff predictions for the rare Friday Night Pac-12 game:
Matthew Lowry: USC-23 Utah-17
This is basically a must win for USC. The Trojans walk into hostile Rice-Eccles Stadium to face a Utah team that’s looking to move to 4-0 and make a statement in the Pac-12 South. USC will have a pretty tall task of getting their offense going against a vaunted Utah defense. Last week the Trojans were able to move the ball on Stanford but penalties from the offensive line took away scoring opportunities from USC. If USC is going to win then their offensive line will have to stay disciplined and not put the offense in third and long situations. The defense on the other hand has prevent the big play. Their hands will be full with dual threat quarterback Troy Williams. This game could go either way, however USC’s offense will get a much needed boost from quarterback Sam Darnold and Adoree Jackson’s presence to give them the win and save them from going 1-3.
Darrien Starling: USC 27 Utah 21
The Trojans are starting dual threat quarterback Sam Darnold this week against Utah. Utah struggled to contain a dual-threat quarterback in their game against BYU. I believe Darnold will get off to a good start and put up some points early against Utah to jump out into the lead. I think the Utah's defense will play a great second half and stymie the Trojans' offensive attack. Utah will turn the ball over throughout the game and squander too many points to keep up with the Trojans.
Nick Dempsey: USC-17, Utah-16
If this game is not a must win for the USC Trojans it is at the very least a “must compete”. USC just made a QB switch, they are going into a notoriously rowdy environment, the weather will be bad, the Utes have a great defensive front, the Trojans have a struggling offensive line, Clay Helton’s teams have been bad on the road and my general pessimism about this program have me thinking Utah should win this game. Utah, however, has been turning the ball over an awful lot, and their big mistakes on offense may be more than enough to cancel out USC’s big mistakes on offense. There is a huge part of me that can absolutely see USC getting thumped in this one, but I have a feeling, or perhaps a hope, that USC will respond to the mounting pressure and manage to pull off the win. If they do it will also be the biggest win for Clay Helton away from the Coliseum.
Steve Walter - USC 24, Utah 17
The Trojans are 1-2, their season stained by a blowout against Alabama and an ugly performance at Stanford. By some accounts, the ‘wheels are coming off.’ But should we really be surprised by losses against two top-ten teams? We new this was a likely scenario from the outset.
It could be argued this is Clay Helton’s most important game yet. Look for the Trojans to rise up for their coach, much like they did last year against Utah. Sam Darnold will respond as well in his role as the new starter. It may be a short week, but the Trojans will be ready to play. I’m taking USC by a touchdown.
Julian Lopez- USC 28 Utah 24
USC can't end the month at 1-3.... Can they? I believe they come out strong and Darnold does just enough to get a win for the Trojans. Prediction: Defense with a touchdown.
Joseph Kavaloski- USC 27 Utah 20
USC consistently won these vital games last season in conference and I expect the same to continue against Utah. The offensive line played much better against Stanford (sans the false start penalties) and this will need to continue against the Utes. Darnold’s athleticism will add a dangerous new dimension to the Trojans’ offense and Tee Martin will need to play aggressive despite Darnold’s inexperience. The defense was solid against Stanford barring a few mental lapses and if SC can slow down Stanford, they should be able to do the same against a similar offense. The Trojans need to make bold changes after a poor start to the season and a hectic week of rumors and I think SC comes up with a big win.
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