Utah players talk during their Sept. 22 game against Arizona State
The last time Utah and USC squared off, the Trojans beat the Utes 23-14 at the Coliseum.
Utah will face USC on Thursday for the first time since leaving the Mountain West Conference and joining the Pac-12. Utah is 0-1 so far in conference play and 2-2 overall.
But does a different conference mean different results for the Utes? Can they pull off the upset and beat the Trojans?
They just might if a few Utah players can be just about perfect.
Utah's John White makes a run during the Utes' Sept. 22 game against Arizona State.
In the Utes' opener against Colorado, John White ran for 119 yards. Since then, he’s only run for 114 yards on 41 carries, including just 18 yards in last week’s game against Arizona State.
White left the game against Utah State in the second week because of an ankle injury, which looks to have slowed his production.
But if Utah plans to upset the Trojans Thursday, they’re going to need him to be at his best. When John White plays well, the Utes win. And by “plays well” I mean he rushes for at least 100 yards. Utah has never lost (9-0) when White carries for 100-plus yards.
Utah's Jon Hays throws during the Utes' game against Arizona State Sept. 22
Jon Hays became Utah’s starting QB after their previous starter Jordan Wynn suffered a shoulder injury that will keep him out for the remainder of the season.
At first glance, Utah’s QB Hays looks to be a little out of his league when he’s compared to USC’s QB Matt Barkley.
Hays, who has played fewer games than Barkley this season, has less than 500 passing yards compared to Barkley’s 1,000-plus and four touchdowns to Barkley’s 12.
But, both QBs are completing about 60 percent of their passes, and Hays has thrown just one interception in the two games he has started.
But with Utah’s defense as weak as it is (the team gave up more than 500 yards in last week’s game), Jon Hays will have to be perfect. Utah can’t afford any turnovers if they hope to beat the No. 13 team in the nation.
Utah and Arizona State players pile up as the ball is released in their matchup Sept. 22.
The Utes defense has not been good as of late. Last week, Utah let Arizona State’s QB Taylor Kelly throw for 326 yards, and the team gave up 512 total yards (347 by halftime).
That didn’t earn the Utes a win against Arizona State and it certainly won’t help them to upset the Trojans.
If Utah is going to win, the team will need to tighten up its defense to look more like it did in Utah's 41-0 shutout against Northern Colorado in the team’s season opener.