Utah vs. USC: Everything You Need To Know

Ryan Kostecka

The Pac-12 south division title still goes through Salt Lake City as Utah is set to open its 2020 college football season with a massive Pac-12 south showdown against No. 20 USC. 

Here's everything you need to know ahead of kickoff.

Utah (0-0) vs. No. 20 USC (2-0)

When: Saturday, Nov. 21 — 8:30 p.m. MST

Where: Rice-Eccles Stadium, Salt Lake City, UT

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Broadcast Information
TV: ESPN
Play-By-Play: Dave Flemming
Analyst: Rod Gilmore
Sideline Reporter: Stormy Buonantony

Radio: KALL ESPN 700 AM
Play-By-Play: Bill Riley
Analyst: Scott Mitchell

Sirius: Channel 211
XM: 198
Internet: 960

Betting Line: Utah (+2.5) — Over/Under = 58

Series History
12-6 USC / The teams have split the last six meetings, while combining to win four of the past five Pac-12 south division titles.

Last year, the Utes lost 30-23 after running back Zack Moss went down with an injury in the opening half and failed to return. Utah still totaled 457 yards of total offense, running for 247 yards as Devin Brumfield finished with 10 carries for 63 yards.

Hufanga and linebacker Palaie Gaoteote IV, who both return this season, combined for 28 tackles while Jackson finished with a sack and tackle for loss.

Utah's offensive line is expected to be a huge driving force leading the team on offense this season, returning three starters and a handful of others ready to emerge.
Courtesy of Utah Athletics

Utah Storyline
It's discovery time for the Utes, as they've yet to play a game this season. Not only are they breaking in a new starting quarterback and running back, they must find a way to replace nine starters from one of the nation's top defenses last season.

What's astonishing is that despite Utah having its first two games (vs. Arizona, @ UCLA) of the season canceled, the Pac-12 south division title still goes through Salt Lake City. If Utah is to win its four remaining games on the season, it will represent the south and face Oregon (most likely) in the conference title game.

But that's a long ways away, as Utah must first be prepared for a talented USC team coming to town. Second-half adjustments will be key in this one, and possibly look for the weather to play a critical role.

Nov 14, 2020; Tucson, Arizona, USA; USC Trojans running back Vavae Malepeai (29) celebrates a touchdown against the Arizona Wildcats during the second half at Arizona Stadium.
Mandatory Credit: Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

USC Storyline
Are the Trojans "back?" That's the question that's been surrounding USC all offseason and through two games, they haven't lived up to the billing. Two extremely narrow victories that required the Trojans to score a touchdown in the final minute aren't exactly instilling a lot of faith in them.

What USC needs is a statement game, and it'll have that chance when taking on Utah Saturday night. The Utes, despite it being their first game and expected flaws, are often an extremely well-coached team and will provide the Trojans with their toughest test to date.

Dec 6, 2019; Santa Clara, CA, USA; Utah Utes tight end Brant Kuithe (80) catches a pass against Oregon Ducks safety Brady Breeze (25) during the first half of the Pac-12 Conference championship game at Levi's Stadium.
Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Utah Players To Watch: Brant Kuithe, TE, JR; Britain Covey, WR, JR; Devin Lloyd, LB, JR; Clark Phillips III, CB, FR

USC Players To Watch: Talanoa Hufanga, S, JR; Drake Jackon, OLB, SO; Drake London, WR, SO; Jalen McKenzie, RT, JR

Nov 7, 2020; Los Angeles CA, USA; Southern California Trojans wide receiver Drake London (15) catches a 21-yard touchdown pass for the winning score with 1:20 to play as Arizona State Sun Devils defensive back Kejuan Markham (12) and linebacker Kyle Soelle (34) defend at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum. USC defeated Arizona State 28-27.
Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Matchup To Watch: Utah's Redzone Defense vs. USC's Redzone Offense

Weather Forecast: 34 degrees and clear at kickoff. Five percent chance of rain with winds expected at 3 mph out of the east

Prediction: This was an extremely tough game to predict, as I'm bullish on Utah and I believe that this offense has the opportunity to thrive. While the defense is young and inexperienced, it's without a doubt talented and you never know how somebody responds until they play a real game.

Combine all of that with the cold weather in which the Trojans can't prepare for and the way they've largely underperformed this season and the recipe for the upset is there. 

Sep 20, 2019; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Southern California Trojans defensive lineman Drake Jackson (99) tackles Utah Utes wide receiver Britain Covey (18) resulting in a penalty during the first half at Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum.
Mandatory Credit: Kelvin Kuo-USA TODAY Sports

But overall, I'm not quite willing to bet on the Utes until they've played a game. If this were their second game of the season, I would take the Utes. But it's their first, and the growing pains and inexperience will be apparent. I think the offense does a great job and succeeds, but I believe the defense will not be able to hold USC on its final possession and the Trojans win another nail-biter.

USC 38 — Utah 34

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