USC has opened its 2020 college football regular season with two consecutive victories. The Trojans defeated Arizona State 28-27 in their season opener and followed that this past Saturday with a 34-30 victory over the Arizona Wildcats. The Trojans offense has played well through its first two games of the season but the defense must improve if USC hopes to win the Pac-12 and play in the College Football Playoff.
Utah has not played a down this season after having its season opener against Arizona cancelled followed by the cancellation of its game against UCLA last weekend. Utah head coach Kyle Whittingham recently signed a four-year extension through the 2027 regular season. Whittingham is faced with a defense that must replace several players including several in the secondary and an offensive line that can only be described as inexperienced.
(Late line movements and injury reports were updated on Friday afternoon.)
The line has moved slightly in favor of the hosts as the week has gone on, tightening up the matchup in this Pac-12 tilt. USC opened as a 3.5-point favorite and, as of Friday afternoon, is favored by 2.5-points at the majority of sportsbooks. 52 percent of the bets ATS are backing the Utes with the points at home as they attempt to get their season going.
The total for this contest has climbed upward during the week. After opening at 56.5 points, the total currently sits at 57.5 or 58 points, depending on the sportsbook you frequent. 57 percent of the bets on the total for this contest feel that this game will end up going over the mark.
Game-time Weather: We’re looking at a chilly contest here. Game-time temperatures are expected to be in the mid-30s. The temperature will drop to the low-30s as the game continues on under clear skies with no chance of precipitation in the forecast. Winds are expected to blow from the north around two miles an hour with the gusts kicking up to around six miles per hour in the contest.
USC must fix its leaky defenseAlthough the USC Trojans are 2-0 through the first two games of their regular season, the defense has had its problems. USC is giving up an average of 28.5 points a game. The Trojans are allowing 210.0 yards per game passing and an atrocious 208.0 yards per game on the ground. Opposing teams are averaging 5.3 yards per carry against USC. USC's leading tackler is defensive lineman Marlon Tuipulotu who has 16 including 11 solo and five assisted. Linebacker Drake Jackson is the leader in quarterback sacks for USC with two and safety Talanoa Hufanga has the only interception for the Trojans.
USC has a very potent offense led by quarterback Kedon Slovis. The Trojans are averaging 174.0 yards per game rushing and 353.0 yards per game passing. The passing attack for USC is 7th in the nation and the Trojans are scoring an average of 31.5 points per game. Slovis has 706 yards passing, three touchdowns and one interception and the USC quarterback has been sacked three times. Markese Stepp has 135 yards rushing and two touchdowns to lead all USC running backs, while Steven Carr has 125 yards rushing and two touchdowns. The leading receiver for the Trojans is Amon-Ra St. Brown with 14 receptions for 213 yards.
USC Injury Report:
OUT: RB Ben Easington, LB Juliano Falaniko, WR Kyle Ford, LB Palaie Gaoteote IV, QB Mo Hasan, WR Munir McClain, RB Samuel Oram-Jones, DL Trevor Trout
Questionable: WR Gary Braynt Jr., S Talanoa Hufanga, LB Tayler Katoa, OL Brett Neilon, DL Brandon Pili, DL Caleb Tremblay, TE Jude Wolfe
Utah must replace several players on defenseUtah was 11-3 overall last season and was the champion of the Pac-12 South Division, but was defeated by Oregon in the conference title game. The Utes must replace their starting quarterback and running back from last season as well as their career sack leader. Graduate transfer Jack Bentley and sophomore Cameron Rising are both expected to see playing time at quarterback for Utah. At running back, Devin Broomfield and Jordan Wilmore will share duties. The receiving corps are the deepest position for the Utah offense. Tight end Brant Kuithe is back as is Britain Covey, who redshirted last season 2to recover from a 2018 knee injury. Samson Nacua and Solomon Enis are two other receivers that will see plenty of action for the Utes.
Utah lost several players on the defensive side of the ball following their 2019 season as nine starters must be replaced. The biggest loss was in the defensive secondary as two starters moved on to the NFL. JaTravs Broughton and Clark Phillips III are expected to step in to fill those two holes in the defensive backfield. The defensive line will be anchored by Mufi Hill-Hunt and Mika Tafua but will miss career sack leader Bradlee Anae. Devin Lloyd, who led Utah in tackles last season with 91, returns as the top linebacker, but the rest of the linebackers will be inexperienced.
Utah Injury Report:
OUT: K Kyler Southern, WR Tyrone Young-Smith
- Utah is 1-3-1 ATS in the last five at home as the underdog
- USC is 4-1 ATS i