USC vs. Utah 2017: The match up by the numbers

LOS ANGELES, CA - OCTOBER 24: Ronald Jones II /

On Saturday, USC vs. Utah will open Pac-12 South divisional play with a key matchup. Here are the interesting statistics you need to know ahead of the game.

The men of Troy get to enjoy the friendly confines of the Coliseum for a second-straight Saturday as they take on Pac-12 south division rival Utah.

USC will look to round into form offensively and continue their winning ways, while the Utes will look to get back on track after their first loss of the season to the Stanford Cardinal.

Let’s take a look at the primetime match up between the Trojans and the Utes, by the numbers:

Utah vs. USC: The Series

Saturday will mark the 16th time that USC and Utah will play. It will also be the seventh time that the two teams have faced each other as members of the Pac-12.

USC leads the series all-time with a record of 10-5. The Trojans have won four of the six matchups between the two teams since Utah joined the Pac-12. However, Utah has won two of the last three meetings against USC. Both of those Ute wins have been at home.

The Utes haven’t won in the Coliseum ever and haven’t beaten the Trojans in Los Angeles in 101 years, their last victory coming in 1916. That game was so long ago, it took place in Fiesta Park. USC did not start playing football games in the Coliseum until 1923.

Potential Offensive Nightmare

USC has had offensive woes all season, besides Week 2 vs Stanford. Even last week, when the perfect remedy seemed to be a porous Oregon State defense, USC still had some problems. Whether you blame poor execution or the play calling, if the troubles are not addressed, USC could have real problems Saturday.

SEE MORE: Was Playcalling the Problem vs. Oregon State?

Utah ranks first in the Pac-12 and seventh in the nation in passing efficiency defense. The Utes are also tied for the conference lead and sixth in the nation in interceptions, picking off nine passes. The Utah defense is third in the conference and seventh nationally in turnovers gained with 14.

That’s not necessarily the defense you want to see when your quarterback is tied for third in the nation with nine interceptions. Sam Darnold has thrown at least one interception in every game this season including three multi-interception games. On top of that, he has lost fumbles in two straight games. Protecting the ball should be a top priority against Utah.

The Importance of Ronald Jones II

USC’s best offensive player this season has been Ronald Jones II. Even missing the Cal game, the junior tailback has amassed 529 yards on only 88 carries to go with seven touchdowns. Jones II has also caught five passes for 102 yards and one touchdown.

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Despite Jones II averaging 6.2 yards a carry and slightly more than 20 yards a reception, USC doesn’t seem to be using him enough. USC has never lost a game when he has had at least 15 carries.

Jones II had just 12 carries against Oregon State last Saturday. While that was a season low, it made sense that USC would want to rotate, with no bye week.

However, with Jones II gaining no less than four yards on each carry and currently maintaining a streak of 12 straight-games with a touchdown, USC needs to consider giving him a much heavier workload this week against one of the Pac-12’s stronger defenses.

The Power of October 13th

A traditionally benign date to most of the USC faithful, unless they are fans of Micheal Myers or highly superstitious, October 13th happens to be the birth date of Reign of Troy contributor Alex Polk, the author of this article. Since the turn of the century, the date has served as a sign of victory for the USC Trojans.

Since 2000, USC has a record of 14-2 either playing on October 13 or the game closest to the 13.  The only losses in that span were in 2000 when Paul Hackett and USC lost to No. 9 Oregon, 28-17, and in 2015 when USC lost 41-31 to No. 14 Notre Dame.

On the flip side, some of USC’s most memorable wins have taken place in this window. In 2005, the Bush Push, when USC won a game in iconic fashion against No. 9 Notre Dame, 34-31.

TRENDING: 5 Storylines to Watch For vs. Utah

Then in 2014, a struggling 3-2 USC team upset No. 10 ranked Arizona on the road, 28-26. The following week that same year, USC won a thriller over No. 7 Cal and Aaron Rodgers, 23-17. With any luck, USC will continue to embrace the October magic and get a win against Utah this Saturday in the Coliseum.