Ute, Ute, Ute Oughta Know: USC vs. Utah 2018 Preview

Gene Sweeney Jr/Getty Images
Gene Sweeney Jr/Getty Images
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Gene Sweeney Jr/Getty Images
Gene Sweeney Jr/Getty Images

The Trojans are back on the road with the USC vs. Utah game likely to determine who will represent the division in the Pac-12 championship.


In 2013, Ed Orgeron took over as head coach for USC after Lane Kiffin was left on the tarmac at LAX following the Trojans loss against Arizona State. As interim, he led USC to a 6-2 record, including a victory against No. 5 Stanford, possibly the only time Trojans fans will ever get to storm their own field.

Despite his impressive record, he was not hired as the full time head coach. There were a variety of reasons: his losses to both UCLA and Notre Dame in his interim, his lack of experience as head coach, or his record at Ole Miss when he was one, going 10-25 in three years.

Whatever the rationale was for not hiring Ed Orgeron as head coach, it was the same kind of inept decision making that lead to the Trojans passing on Chris Petersen and hiring Steve Sarkisian, and then firing him one-and-a-half years later and naming his interim, Clay Helton, head coach. USC’s current head coach was on the coaching staff of two fired head coaches, as well as one not deemed worthy enough to remove his interim tag.

After not being hired as head coach, Orgeron left for LSU, where the same scenario happened to him again in 2016, but this time his success as interim was awarded by being hired on full time. Since then, Orgeron has gone 15-5 in two seasons. LSU is currently 6-1 and ranked 5th following their victory against No. 3 Georgia.

Some can’t explain the Tigers success, but his players can.

Highly-paid tactile coordinators? Incredible game plans? A head coach that gets you mentally, physically and emotionally ready to play? Those are things that have been completely missing from USC the last decade.

Especially the Clay Helton era.

Maybe Orgeron wouldn’t have worked out for USC. Maybe he needed that extra experience at LSU to get him completely ready to be a full time head coach. But let’s not act like the Trojans would be any worse off than they are now. Hell, the Trojans would be in the same spot if he got fired a couple years in because Clay Helton would have just ended up the interim like he was for Sarkisian.

There is a section of fans that are Ed Orgeron haters and as time progresses, the amount of crow they have to eat increases by the week. I’d rather have the way the team played under him as interim head coach then what I am seeing every week this season. A team that limps onto the field uninspired, plays one good quarter and then gives the minimum amount of effort to leave with a victory.

The kids are running the class, but they are still getting passing grades on all their tests, so it looks like there won’t be a new teacher anytime soon. Fans are just waiting for the bell to ring for next period.

USC vs. Utah Team Preview

Note: As always, Bill Connelly’s team preview of Utah was invaluable to my research. He gets the credit.


Utah and USC share a 4-2 record at this point in the season, although the Trojans have the edge with a better conference record. The Utes have a 2-2 record in the Pac-12, with victories coming against Stanford and Arizona, and losses were against Washington and Washington State. So in summary:

  • Utah is better than Stanford but worse than Washington State.
  • USC is better than Washington State but worse than Stanford.

Guess fans will find out which team is superior when they go head-to-head this Saturday.

Coach: Kyle Whittingham

The longest tenured coach in the Pac-12 earned his 200th win as a member of Utah’s coaching staff this week. Entering his 15th year as head coach, more than half of those victories are his own, posting a 115-58 record. The key to his success on the sidelines? Well…