Traveling to Salt Lake City for the first time in 95 years, the No. 13 USC Trojans take on the Utah Utes Thursday night at Rice-Eccles Stadium.
Fresh from a week off, No. 13 USC hope to build on their 27-9 win over California in which they gained 488 total yards, including 296 rushing.
Quarterback Matt Barkley saw his Heisman Trophy chances dwindle after the Trojans loss to Stanford on Sept. 15, but liked how his team responded to the letdown.
"I think it's great the way we bounced back," Barkley said to Stats LLC. "We shut out what people were saying about us."
Against California, Barkley went 22-for-34 for 192 yards with two touchdowns and two interceptions, but the picks couldn’t stifle USC’s dominant run game. Junior running back Silas Redd gained 158 yards and one touchdown on 21 carries, and Curtis McNeal carried 10 times for 115 yards.
Receiver Marquise Lee showed why many consider him to be one of the best in the country, making 11 catches for 94 yards and snatching both of Barkley’s touchdown passes.
The Utes will have their hands full with the Trojans after giving up 512 total yards to Arizona State last week in their 37-7 loss.
The Sun Devils sped out to an early 21-0 lead in the first quarter, and Utah only managed one touchdown in the second quarter, never challenging for a win.
Quarterback Jon Hays went 10-for-15 for 117 yards with one touchdown and one interception, and junior fullback Karl Williams totaled five receptions for 49 yards and the Utes’ lone score.
A poor showing last week aside, Utah does have the potential to upset USC, claiming a 24-21 win over then-No. 25 BYU on Sept. 15.
Utes defensive tackle Star Lotulelei blocked a 51-yard field goal attempt by BYU kicker Justin Sorensen with one second remaining to beat their in-state rival. Utah also stuffed BYU’s rushing attack, allowing only 2.5 yards per attempt.
Betting Odds: USC is favored by 14.5 points; Over/Under: 48 points
Prediction: USC faltered against Stanford, but have the proven offensive talent to hang with the best in the country. While Utah is capable of keeping the game close, they would have to control the clock with a dominant rushing attack that they just don’t possess. USC should walk away with a win.
Predicted Score: USC 30, Utah 13