Can USC top media favorite Utah to win the Pac-12 South in 2019?

Alicia de Artola/Reign of Troy
Alicia de Artola/Reign of Troy /

Clay Helton’s USC football program is looking for a rebound in 2019. Do they have what it takes to win the Pac-12 South over the likes of Utah and UCLA?

Hot. 2019 Season Predictions

Odd years have been rewarding for Clay Helton’s USC football program. They won the Pac-12 South in both 2015 and 2017. Can they repeat the pattern with a division crown in 2019?

It won’t be easy, given a laundry list of deficiencies stemming from last year’s 5-7 season. Not to mention a division featuring defending champ Utah, upstart UCLA, high-flying Khalil Tate, Herm Edwards and a potent Colorado offense.

It’s time for the Reign of Troy staff to chime in with Pac-12 South picks…

Alicia de Artola: Utah is rightly the favorite to win the Pac-12 South to start the season. They won it last year, return a bunch of talent and have a coach capable of repeating the feat. However, the Utes are also fairly predictable.

The tone for the South will be set when they come to Los Angeles in September. USC can gain the upper hand early.

From there, Utah isn’t the kind of team that would storm undefeated through the remainder of their season, making the tie-breaker irrelevant. They have road trips to Washington and Arizona to survive while avoiding other slip ups. The Trojans themselves may slip up as well, but the South is set up for a bit of a free-for-all. USC will win the South on the strength of that tiebreaker.

Michael Castillo: Utah’s the obvious pick to win the division. While both USC and UCLA have the potential to take the crown if they play up to their talent level and right their wrongs from last season, they both have too much to prove to reasonably predict them to.

Whereas, the Utes bring back the best defensive line west of the Mississippi and the two-headed attack of Tyler Huntley and Zack Moss, who helped lead them to a dominant run before their season-ending injuries in 2018.

Road trips to USC and Washington aren’t ideal. But a split is more than satisfactory.  The Utes could even conceivably lose both and still take the division.

READ MORE: Ranking USC’s Opponents By Threat Level

Trent Goodrich: Though they are the trendy pick, Utah will win the Pac-12 South in 2019. The Utes return the majority of their production this season and have an extremely favorable schedule when compared to USC’s slate this season.

Kyle Wittingham’s squad avoids Stanford and Oregon during conference play, meaning they can lose to Washington and still control their own destiny against the rest of the South. Despite the Utes’ tendency to crater at some point in each season, the team’s focus on defense and running the ball prevents them from ever being out of a game against average opponents, which is all they will see outside of Washington and USC.

Add in quarterback Tyler Huntley and suddenly Utah is capable of putting up 35-40 points on most teams. If the Utes beat USC week four and Huntley stays healthy, Utah cruises in the South. USC finishes second.

Alex Polk: USC has the talent to win the South Division, but I need to see them prove it. I’ll go with Utah. They have the offensive style I think is most effective —they always have solid play in the trenches— and their defense should be good enough to anchor them. The only thing is Utah is good for one to three key injuries that seem to just derail their entire season.