USC vs. Utah Gameday Guide: Matchups, lineups, links, odds and more

John McCoy/Getty Images
John McCoy/Getty Images /

USC vs. Utah

LA Coliseum | Los Angeles, CA6:00 p.m. Pacific | FS1All-time series: USC leads 11-6Last meeting: Utah 41, USC 28 in 2018

This year’s USC vs. Utah matchup was billed as a Battle for the Pac-12 South going into the season. It still holds those implications, even if prospects for the two teams feel considerably different at the moment.

Utah is coming off a glorified bye week, having outpaced FCS Idaho State 31-0 in Week 3. That victory moved the Utes to 3-0 on the season and into the No. 10 spot in the AP poll.

Though a 35-17 win over Northern Illinois in Week 2 was less decisive than they might have hoped, Utah can still claim a significantly better showing against BYU, who they smashed 30-12 in Week 1.

USC played the same BYU squad in Week 3 and found it significantly tougher to deal with. Kedon Slovis threw three interceptions, including a decisive pick in overtime as the Cougars prevailed 30-27. That loss to the shine off the Trojans 45-20 win over Stanford the week before.

Now it’s on Slovis and USC to turn the disappointment of their first loss into motivation for an upset victory in front of their home crowd.

Can they do it? Or will Utah notch their first ever victory over USC at the Coliseum?

Friday night lights will tell the story…

Gameday Links:

Preview Podcast:

In a mega combo episode, co-hosts Michael Castillo and Alicia de Artola review the BYU game and preview the Utah matchup with Over/Unders and predictions.

LISTEN: USC vs. Utah Preview

Having trouble? Download the episode or listen on iTunesGoogle Play or Stitcher.

USC football injury report

    • LB Solomon Tuliaupupu (foot)
    • QB JT Daniels (knee)
  • OUT:
    • DL Jacob Lichtenstein (calf)
    • LB Jordan Iosefa (knee)
    • LB Elijah Winston (turf toe)
    • OLB Abdul-Malik McClain
    • TE Ethan Rae (knee)
    • WR Kyle Ford (knee)
    • WR Bru McCoy (illness)
    • CB Isaac Tayor-Stuart (concussion)
    • OL Andrew Vorhees (foot)
    • CB Max Williams (hamstring)
    • DB Greg Johnson (concussion)
    • DL Christian Rector (ankle)
    • WR Amon-Ra St. Brown (foot)

Utah football injury report

    • OL Orlando Umana (undisclosed)
    • OL Johnny Maea (undisclosed)
    • DB Julian Blackmon (knee)


When USC has the ball…

USC found it difficult to move the ball consistently on the ground and perilous to pass against BYU. They have even more reason to worry about Utah.

The Utes boast one of the best defensive lines and secondaries in the Pac-12. That’s what USC will have to overcome on Friday night.

The key will be Kedon Slovis’ ability to shake off the mistakes he made in his second start, taking the lessons and growing from them. If he continues to telegraph his passes by locking onto his receiver and or forcing the ball into tight spaces, Utah’s Jaylon Johnson and Julian Blackmon are more than capable of making him pay for it.

Up front, the Trojans face a difficult challenge after they were embarrassed by BYU’s three-man front. The Utes bring a 4-3 to the table, but their bodies in the trenches could present many of the same problems, especially with dominant defensive tackles like Leki Fotu and John Penisini setting the tone physically. Slovis will have to keep an eye on elite pass rusher Bradlee Anae coming of the edge.

One thing USC can take heart in is their receiving corps. Even though the Utes have capable players in the secondary, even the best defenses will have their hands full shutting down Michael Pittman, Tyler Vaughns and Amon-Ra St. Brown. If Slovis can deliver the ball safely and accurately, the Trojans could be in business.

Utah Defense

  • LE #6 Bradlee Anae, Sr.
  • LT #52 John Penisini, Sr.
  • RT #99 Leki Fotu, Sr.
  • RE #42 Mika Tafua, So.
  • RLB #20 Devin Lloyd, So.
  • MLB #13 Francis Bernard, Sr.
  • LCB #1 Jaylon Johnson, Jr.
  • RCB #5 Tareke Lewis, Sr.
  • NB #28 Javelin Guidry, Jr.
  • FS #23 Julian Blackmon, Sr.
  • SS #26 Terrell Burgess, Sr.

USC Offense

  • LT #73 Austin Jackson, Jr.
  • LG #75 Alijah Vera-Tucker, RS-So.
  • C #62 Brett Neilon, RS-So.
  • RG #70 Jalen McKenzie, RS-So.
  • RT #53 Drew Richmond, RS-Sr.
  • TE #84 Erik Krommenhoek, Jr.
  • X #6 Michael Pittman, Sr.
  • A #1 Velus Jones, RS-Jr.
  • Y #8 Amon-Ra St. Brown, So.
  • Z #21 Tyler Vaughns, RS-Jr.
  • RB #29 Vavae Malepeai, RS-Jr.
  • QB #9 Kedon Slovis Fr.

When Utah has the ball…

USC has a couple reasons to hope they can stand toe to toe with Utah defensively. The Utes had to replace a number of starters on their offensive line from 2018 and have already dealt with some injury problems there. That unit will have the task of standing up to the strength of USC’s defense, a defensive line populated by Jay Tufele, Marlon Tuipulotu, Christian Rector and freshman phenom Drake Jackson.

On the backend, USC’s secondary catches a little bit of a break going against a smallish Utah receiving corps with only Britain Covey standing out as a gamebreaking playmaker.

Unfortunately for the Trojans, the Utes have Tyler Huntley at quarterback and Zach Moss at running back, which may be all the playmaking they need.

Moss is one of the premiere running backs in the Pac-12 this year, if not the country. He is a take-no-prisoners kind of runner who can punish defenses with burst and power.

Huntley has been the most efficient quarterback in the conference when it comes to passing. He is also exactly the kind of mobile passer who has given USC fits in the past. The Trojan defense, which has been less-than-stellar at corralling and wrapping up quarterbacks this year, will have to figure things out fast to keep him contained.

Utah Offense

  • LT #77 Darrin Paulo, Sr.
  • LG #71 Braeden Daniels, Fr.
  • C #50 Orlando Umana, Jr.
  • RG #65 Paul Toala, Sr.
  • RT #55 Nick Ford, So.
  • TE #89 Cole Fotheringham, So.
  • QB #1 Tyler Huntley, Sr.
  • RB #2 Zach Moss, Sr.
  • WR #19 Bryan Thompson
  • WR #3 Demari Simpkins, Sr.
  • WR #18 Britain Covey, Jr.

USC Defense

  • DE #89 Christian Rector, RS-Sr.
  • DT #78 Jay Tufele, RS-So.
  • NT #51 Marlon Tuipulotu, RS-So.
  • DE #99 Drake Jackson, Fr.
  • LB #31 Hunter Echols, RS-So.
  • LB #1 Palaie Gaoteote, So.
  • LB #10 John Houston, RS-Sr.
  • CB #2 Olaijah Griffin, So.
  • FS #21 Isaiah Pola-Mao, RS-So.
  • SS #15 Talanoa Hufanga, So.
  • NK #9 Greg Johnson, RS-So.
  • CB #8 Chris Steele, Fr.

Odds (Utah -4):

Utah is a four-point favorite over USC, per BetOnline. Since the Trojans are at home, and the home team is usually spotted a three-point cushion, consider it a touchdown margin between the two teams.