USC football vs. Utah Preview: How the Trojans and Utes stack up

USC football opponent Kyle Whittingham. Jeff Swinger-USA TODAY Sports
USC football opponent Kyle Whittingham. Jeff Swinger-USA TODAY Sports /
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USC football vs. Utah Prediction

There are simply too many unknowns for Utah to pin down which direction the game will go Saturday. The known factors — sub 40° temperatures, 4000-foot elevation, and a Clay Helton coached team — all indicate that USC will go into Rice-Eccles and lose this contest. Yet, it is unclear what percentage of Utah’s roster will be available and how much quality practice time they have been able to piece together after the roster was stricken with coronavirus.

If the Utes have the majority of their players available, they have the returning experience on the offensive line and in the receiving corps to mitigate the loss of Huntley and Moss in the backfield. Physicality shouldn’t an issue for a Wittingham coached team, and with the near-freezing temperatures, look for the battle on this side of the ball to be a war of attrition.

When USC has the ball, one big question remains — Can the USC offensive line handle a team that will be much meaner and much nastier in the trenches?

Slovis will see varying levels of pressure throughout the game and the men upfront need to allow the receivers to work their routes to the spot spots in the zone while also giving the sophomore quarterback the space to step into his throws. Helton promised we wouldn’t be talking about wobbly Slovis throws this upcoming week, so it’s time for this offense to put the passing attack together.

What happens between the 20s is largely irrelevant for USC. It’s the red zone that matters. At this point, the Trojans should tire of hearing that they are going to get pushed around by a group that hasn’t played a game together. Look for Slovis to be a little sharper, even in the cold, and for the Trojans to benefit from a low scoring game. The Men of Troy will have just enough, once again.

USC 24, Utah 20

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