The Pac-12’s last perfect team is still going strong. The No. 3 Utah Utes saved their best for last as they blew by the Arizona State Sun Devils on Saturday. The same can’t be said of the USC Trojans, who have now lost back-to-back games following their fourth quarter no-show against Notre Dame. The Utes will now look to stretch their unbeaten streak to seven when they visit the in-turmoil Trojans in Los Angeles.
Get a comprehensive preview of this Pac-12 showdown between the Utes and Trojans below. And for more Week 8 college football fun, check out our previews of Florida State vs. Georgia Tech and Texas A&M vs. Ole Miss.[sc:NCAAFArticles ]
Utah Utes vs. USC Trojans Preview
Where: Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum, Los Angeles
When: Saturday, October 24, 7:30 PM ET
Line: Utah Utes (+3.5) at USC Trojans (-3.5) – view all NCAA Football lines
TV Broadcast: FOX
Betting on the Utah Utes (6-0, 3-0 Pac-12)
After they were slowed down in the first three quarters, the Utah Utes showed their class in crunch time as they pulled away from Arizona State with 20 unanswered points in the fourth period to seal the 34-18 win.
[sc:NCAA240banner ]Star running back Devontae Booker, who was kept fairly quiet for most of the game, came to life with two fourth quarter touchdowns, including a 62-yard score to seal the game. Booker finished with 118 rushing yards on 21 carries.
With Booker kept in check early, quarterback Travis Wilson did a fine job moving the football through the air. He went 26-of-36 for 297 yards and two touchdowns with no interceptions.
Booker, the conference’s third-leading rusher with 130 yards per game, should have a much bigger day against a less-than-stellar USC run defense that has given up significant yardage on the ground in each of its three losses (195 vs. Stanford, 135 vs. Washington, 214 vs. Notre Dame).
Meanwhile, the Utah defense remains very solid. It held Arizona State’s offense to just nine points on three field goals (since seven points came off a kick return touchdown and two points came from a safety off a Utah kick return) and 257 total yards of offense. It has already kept two of the highest scoring teams in the conference – Oregon and Cal – to a combined 44 points.
Utah’s defense has forced an impressive 19 turnovers this season, while the offense has only committed seven; that plus-12 turnover differential is the second-best in college football. If it can force a few more turnovers from Cody Kessler, who has thrown five picks in his last three games, the Utes should be able to get enough of an edge over the Trojans.
Utah is 8-1 (SU and ATS) in its last nine road games.
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Betting on the USC Trojans (3-3, 1-3 Pac-12)
You’ve got to hand it to USC. After all that’s happened over the last couple of days – a shock loss to Washington, swiftly followed by the firing of head coach Steve Sarkisian – the Trojans could’ve very easily folded on the road against Notre Dame.
Instead, they battled hard under interim coach Clay Helton, and were ahead by a touchdown heading into the fourth quarter. Of course, that’s when the wheels came off, as they allowed 17 unanswered points in the final frame to lose, 41-31.
Despite the incredibly listless performance against Washington, the Trojans showed that their offense is still pretty impressive. Cody Kessler threw for 365 yards and two touchdowns (although he also threw two costly fourth-quarter interceptions), while the ground game totaled 150 yards.
With their season essentially over, the pressure is completely off the Trojans, and could lead to some more aggressive play calling. They already showed that in one such trick play, which saw freshman wide receiver Jalen Greene throwing a 75-yard touchdown pass to JuJu Smith-Schuster.
The big play ability of Smith-Schuster and Adoree’ Jackson, who have contributed to USC’s 15 pass plays of 30+ yards this season, should be able to exploit a Utes secondary that is susceptible to giving up big gains through the air. Utah has given up nine pass plays of 30+ yards this season.
USC has won both home games against Utah since the Utes became members of the Pac-12, and covered the spread on both occasions.
The Trojans avoid a third-straight loss by upending No. 3 Utah, 35-32.[sc:NCAA490banner ]
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