The USC Trojans got here into this season with very excessive expectations, and that’s saying rather a lot contemplating their a historic program whose followers anticipate nothing wanting a Pac-12 title and a top-10 postseason end yearly. The additions of head coach Lincoln Riley and quarterback Caleb Williams had Southern California foaming on the mouth, anticipating a possible playoff look, which might be USC’s first ever and the Pac-12’s first since Washington in 2017.
The Trojans have gotten off to a sizzling begin, going 6-0 to start the 12 months. Nonetheless, their opponents haven’t precisely been world-beaters. In actual fact, Utah would be the first ranked opponent they’ve performed this 12 months. Regardless of that, the Trojans nearly misplaced to Oregon State, the identical Oregon State that would barely deal with Fresno State on the highway and promptly received stomped by Utah 42-16 every week after nearly beating USC.
The Trojans are proper to be scared. They had been shedding in that Oregon State sport all the way in which up till the fourth quarter. The Beavers rank 54th within the nation in yards allowed per sport and are permitting 27.2 factors per sport this 12 months. USC racked up a grand whole of three factors by three quarters!
Now, it’s not truthful to guage USC off of only one sport. Williams accomplished solely 44.4 % of his passes that sport, however he’s been finishing 64.5 % of his passes on the season. Clearly, the complete Trojan offense was simply in a funk that day. Nicely, Williams didn’t look too sharp final week at residence in opposition to Washington State both. He accomplished 15-of-29 passes for 188 yards and two scores, however he was saved by an unbelievable second half defensive exhibiting from his teammates and 28 carries for Travis Dye. I perceive that Dye’s success enabled Williams to simply sit again and benefit from the journey, however when he was compelled to throw, he appeared lackluster, and that gained’t reduce it in opposition to Utah.
It’s been a development all season, AP voters’ hubris is blinding them from who one of the best groups really are. I’m not saying Utah deserves to be high 10. Hell, they’ve misplaced two video games already, however each had been comparatively shut, each had been on the highway, and each had been in opposition to Energy 5 faculties that aren’t ranked within the Top 20. USC has performed one faculty, Washington State, that has acquired AP votes. Up till a couple of weeks in the past, Pitt was nonetheless ranked above Kansas regardless of having a worse report in opposition to worse opponents.
Very like Pitt, the Trojans haven’t earned the excellence that their top-10 rating would point out. They’ve cowered behind weak applications, hoping they might prepare for his or her matchup with the Utes. I don’t belief them. Utah is a greater staff. Up till every week in the past, they’d held each one among their opponents beneath 30 (beneath 20 if you happen to exclude Florida). They’ve scored 25 or extra factors in each sport. Towards higher competitors, the Utes have the sting over USC in completion proportion, opponent completion proportion, speeding yards per sport, opponent speeding yards per sport, and are very shut behind in stats like yards per rush and whole yards per play.
Arguably USC’s largest energy defensively is their line of defense. The Trojans’ Tuli Tuipulotu is coming off a three-sack efficiency in opposition to Washington State. Nonetheless, Utah’s offensive line is presently permitting lower than a sack per sport. Maybe Utah switch Carson Tabaracci might assist the Trojans expose Utah’s offense, however I’d be prepared to guess his information of Utah’s system gained’t be a lot assist.
The Utes gained’t simply win this sport. They’ll embarrass the Trojans’ offense. Williams solely has one interception on the 12 months. That adjustments tonight. Utah will win this sport handedly, and they’re going to leapfrog the Trojans within the AP ballot.