We spoke with SB Nation’s Utah Utes site Block U, about Utah’s chances at a Pac-12 South Championship and what the Trojans can expect in Salt Lake City.
1.) It seems like the Pac-12 South more often than not comes down to USC vs. Utah, how do Utes fans feel about the Trojans?
I think most Utah fans see this game as a win for the Utes. Rice-Eccles Stadium is a tough place to play. USC has been inconsistent offensively, and they face arguably Utah’s best defense in the Pac-12. Utah’s offense has been on a roll the last two weeks, and many see them coming into the game against USC fired up. No Porter Gustin also looms large for the USC defense.
2.) Tyler Huntley has progressed into a deadly dual-threat quarterback, what is different about this year from last in regards to his play?
He is playing in the same offensive scheme for the second-straight year, which certainly helps. Last year, he was battling with Troy Williams to be named Utah’s starter before the season and learning a new offense. This year, he is an established starter playing in the same offense. If you watch Huntley last year, he showed flashes (like the game at Washington). It took him a bit to get going this year, but he has played well the last two weeks.
3.) Utah has the No. 2 rush defense in the nation right now, who are some key players that have helped the Utes achieve that ranking?
Utah has a deep, talented defensive line. Leki Fotu, John Penisini, and Hauoti Pututau are the main guys at defensive tackle. On the outside at defensive end, Bradlee Anae is the main pass rusher, but he has really improved in run defense this year. Maxs Tupai has really come on strong lately as well. The linebackers are fast and experienced which has helped too. Chase Hansen and Cody Barton are both senior captains. The Utah defense looks faster to me this year than in previous years, which has helped them limit big plays in the running game.
4.) Utah has yet to make a trip to the Pac-12 Championship game, are Utes fans getting antsy? Is there a feeling that this year could be their year?
Yes fans definitely want the team to get that monkey off their backs. There’s hesitancy about this year because of the tough schedule, but a win against USC would certainly help. I think a lot of fans are looking at 2019 as possibly the year because the Pac-12 North crossover games get easier (Utah gets OSU and Cal instead of Stanford and Oregon).
5.) Give us a score prediction for the game?
21-17 Utah. USC leads 17-14 late and Utah hits a touchdown pass at the end to win.