The USC Trojans left Provo, Utah with plenty of questions that needed answers. Many believed Stanford was a step forward, however the Trojans 30-27 overtime loss to BYU was a setback and was just a reminder that there was still a ways to go before things turned around. With the game behind them, USC now face another critical test when they return to the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum for Friday night conference clash with the No. 10 Utah Utes. There are major Pac-12 south implications in this early matchup as the winner will be viewed as the favorite in the division, however for USC much more could be on the line.
Why could more be on the line moving forward you ask? Well for starters a win will propel the Trojans as the Pac-12 South favorite moving forward. History has shown that this game dictates the Pac-12 south race for USC moving forward. The last four years USC’s division fate relied on the result of their matchup with Utah. USC defeated Utah at home in 2015 and 2017. They also won the Pac-12 south during those years where in 2014 and 2016 a loss to the Utes has cost them a chance to play for the Pac-12 Championship. You can also count last season, however the Trojans went on a downward spiral that season as well with losses to Arizona State and UCLA.
Could a USC victory also change the feeling about this football team? That remains to be seen at this given moment. Their games against Fresno State and BYU brought a lot of that 2018 feeling back which is a feeling many don’t ever want to see. The victory against Stanford was supposed to be the game where it all clicked, however the loss last Saturday just turned into a false sense of hope. Maybe a win over Utah changes things around for the Trojans. Especially with their next game being a road game against the Washington Huskies. Maybe a win changes the perception around.
While a victory could do a lot of good for the Trojans moving forward, a loss could be very damaging. USC has two consecutive road games against No. 22 Washington and No. 7 Notre Dame. It’s very possible that the Trojans have a losing record going into the bye week and by mid October. In a game as big as this Friday, a loss could shift the mood and momentum moving forward.
A loss could also signal the end of the Clay Helton era at USC. The loss to BYU may have heated up the hot seat just a bit, however a loss to No. 10 Utah could force USC to make a change with their football program moving forward. It may not happen right after the game or the weekend, but it could fast forward the process. Yes the coaches coach and he has made some changes to his coaching staff in the off-season, but at the end of the day the lack of the team’s success falls on him. USC could ultimately wait to hire a new AD and allow for them to make that call, but if Friday proves to be no sign of improvement moving forward especially after a 5-7 season the year before, then a change right away could be very necessary moving forward.