Utah will have extra motivation to try to light up USC football in '22

Vavae Malepeai, USC Football, USC Trojans
Vavae Malepeai, USC Football, USC Trojans / Robert Hanashiro-USA TODAY Sports

USC football's toughest game on the schedule is undoubtedly their seventh game on the schedule, when they take on the Utah Utes. Utah is the No. 7 team in the Preseason AP Top 25 Poll this season, while USC is 14th. They're expected to be better than the Trojans, and it makes sense.

Utah is returning quite a bit of production on defense, and has a hard-nosed culture that always makes for good defenses. They also return one of the best running backs in the conference in Tavion Thomas, and one of the best quarterbacks in the conference in Cam Rising.

Coached by the second-best coach in the conference, and coming off of a Pac-12 Championship last season, they're primed to be a tough matchup for everyone on their schedule. Recent news, however, suggests that they might be even tougher against USC in particular. Utah announced that they will be breaking out the '22forever' helmets for their home contest against USC:

The helmets are hand-painted and honor both Aaron Lowe and Ty Jordan, two Utes that passed away in the last two years. They both wore the No. 22. Utah is going to have quite a bit of extra juice to play in this game. SC was already going to be entering a very hostile environment when they went up to Salt Lake this year, and now that intensity is going to be kicked up even further.

Give USC football mega props if they beat Utah this year.

Every team heading up to Rice-Eccles this year is going to be in a hard-fought, physical battle with Utah, and USC football is going to have it even tougher. It's not just that they're going to be coming out with an extra edge due to wearing the helmets, but that this is when they debut the helmets. There's no way this isn't going to be an emotional night for them.

It'll be up to USC to create some extra motivation themselves. After all, they do have quite a bit of bulletin board material with everybody picking Utah to win the conference this offseason. The reality, though, is that the great USC teams of the past would not care at all about what the other team is wearing.

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If USC wants to be the best, they're going to have to beat the conference favorites no matter the situation, even if the conference favorite was understandably going to be playing with as much motivation they were going to have all year. If SC can pull this game off, they're going to prove that their culture rebuild is ahead of schedule.