After a miserable performance against Washington State in Week 2, USC bounced back with a 35-7 drubbing of Boston College last week.
Sophomore quarterback Cody Kessler quieted the doubters, at least for one game, going 15-of-17 for 237 yards and two touchdowns in Los Angeles. The Trojans posted 257 yards and three scores on the ground as a team. USC outgained Boston College in total yards, 521-184.
Of course, Utah State (2-1) has been on fire in its last two games, scoring 52 points against Air Force and 70 points against Weber State.
In the 70-6 victory over Weber State, junior quarterback Chuckie Keeton threw for 249 yards and five touchdowns, while running back Joey DeMartino racked up 105 yards and three scores on the ground. Weber State was held to 138 total yards.
Let's take a look at the matchup on Saturday in Los Angeles.
When: Saturday, Sept. 21 at 3:30 p.m. ET
Where: Los Angeles Coliseum, Los Angeles, CA
Betting Line (via Covers.com): USC -6.5
Utah State Injuries (via USA Today)
Questionable: DE Connor Williams (Foot)
USC Injuries (via USA Today)
Out: WR Steven Mitchell (Knee)
Doubtful: RB D.J. Morgan (Knee), RB Silas Redd (Knee)
Questionable: DL J.R. Tavai (Undisclosed), CB Anthony Brown (Knee), WR Darreus Rogers (Ankle), RB Randall Telfer (Knee)
Top Storyline: The Play of Cody Kessler/Chuckie Keeton
A big reason why Utah State cannot be counted out in this matchup is the play of junior quarterback Chuckie Keeton.
Keeton has been on fire in the Aggies' first three games, completing 78.1 percent of his passes for 923 yards and 12 touchdowns (to one interception). He's also rushed for 187 yards and one touchdown on 28 carries, placing himself in the Heisman discussion.
On the flip side, there is USC quarterback Cody Kessler. Kessler had gone 18-of-32 for 136 yards with one touchdown to two interceptions before the win over Boston College last week. The question is, can he continue to be an effective quarterback moving forward?
Prediction: USC 27, Utah State 24
This was one of the tougher predictions for me to make this week.
The difference for me is USC's defense.
The Trojans have yet to allow more than 10 points in a game this season. They rank ninth in the country in yards per pass attempt allowed and sixth in interceptions. They also rank second in yards per carry allowed while ceding just one rushing touchdown.
I still have my doubts about Cody Kessler, but the Aggies allowed 30 points to Utah in Week 1 and 20 points to Air Force in Week 2, so they can certainly be scored against.
Coming off their biggest win of the season, I expect the Trojans to ride the momentum to victory against the Aggies in Los Angeles, albeit in a nail-biter.