No. 10 Utah makes their trip to Los Angeles for a Friday night Pac-12 showdown with USC. Winner will most likely control their own fate in the Pac-12 South moving forward. The Utes are coming off a 31-0 victory over FCS Idaho State. We chat with Block U to discuss Friday night’s game and get the Utah perspective of things.
1- Utah comes in with a shot to control the PAC-12 South. Could a win also put them into serious discussion for the College Football Playoffs?
I don’t know if a win would squarely plant the Utes into the conversation, but it would certainly edge them even closer. Had the Trojans outlasted BYU last weekend, this game would be an absolute resumé builder, but with how things stand now, the national opinion OF USC is a bit tepid. Despite that, beating a team like USC always carries a little caché with voters, I just don’t see it being enough to change more than a few minds.
2- Last year Tyler Huntley ambushed the Trojans secondary for over 300 yards and 4 touchdowns. Could you see more of the same game plan coming into Friday’s match up?
That’s not as easy of a question as I would like it to be. Huntley has been really accurate so far, and I haven’t seen much out of USC’s secondary to think there’s much to worry about down field. With that said, Utah’s offensive line is still a bit of a question mark, and the Trojan’s d-line is just good enough to possibly pressure Huntley more than he has been thus far.
3- Utah’s defense, The best in the PAC-12. What do they have to do to slow down the Trojans air raid offense and fluster Kedon Slovis? Do the Utes take the BYU blue print?
Historically, Utah has really struggled to defend against the air raid. There’s arguably more talent in Utah’s secondary now that they’ve ever had, which should alleviate some of those struggles, but ideally Utah’s offense grinds down the clock and controls time of possession to keep Slovis off the field as much as possible. And when he is on the field, I think he’s going to see constant pressure to force mistakes for the defense to capitalize on. If Utah can pick him off two or three times, that’ll be the difference between a win and a loss.
4- Who are some key players that fans should keep an eye on?
Julian Blackmon and Jaylon Johnson make for one of the most dynamic backfields in the country. Seeing those two playing press coverage against the Southern California receivers is going to be fun to watch.
5- What are some of your favorite USC/Utah Moments?
Utah lost the 2012 game, but I’ll never forget Nate Fakahafua manhandling Matt Barkley for a 13 yard fumble recovered for a touchdown, then Star Lotuleilei just having a highlight reel day. Our offense couldn’t make anything happen, but the first three quarters were ridiculously entertaining.
6- What’s your predictions for Friday’s game and the score?
Utah scores twice off turnovers, but the USC defense gets to Huntley and causes some problems. Utah wins 23-17 but gives up the final touchdown in garbage time.