10 quick thoughts on USC’s 30-23 win over Utah.
USC 30, Utah 23
10. And that’s why you eliminate all logic and reason when it comes to college football history. You never, ever, ever, ever, ever, EVER screw with a college football streak, even when it doesn’t make any sense.
Did Utah lose because the program hasn’t beaten USC in Los Angeles since 1915? Of course not, but the Trojans couldn’t handle a BYU team that Utah rolled over, lost their starting quarterback two plays in, and they still beat one of the stars of the Pac-12. Again … you never, ever, ever, ever, ever, EVER screw with a historical college football streak.
9. You’re USC. You should have 12 quarterbacks waiting in the wings, all around 6-4 with leading man good looks and a strong, accurate arm from some California high school with an exotic-cool name like Del Boca Vista High.
Kedon Slovis got buried right out of the gate, so in steps Matt Fink, and the USC offense just kept on rolling. All Fink did was finish with 351 yards and three touchdowns with a pick on a 21-of-30 day despite coming in cold against one of the nation’s top defenses. There’s a reason, though, the passing game seems to work no matter who’s under center …
8. The receivers have been terrific. Michael Pittman destroyed the USC secondary with ten catches for 232 yards and a score, highlighted by a beautiful 77-yard touchdown. He was amazing, the team’s leading receiver, Tyler Vaughns, caught a touchdown pass, and Amon-Ra St. Brown caught five passes for 68 yards and a score. The O line gave Fink just enough time to work, but …
7. There was absolutely no ground game. Eventually, this is going to matter. The Trojans couldn’t run when they absolutely had to against BYU, the ground game only averaged 4.2 yards per carry coming into the game, and against the great Utah line, they only came up with 13 yards on 22 carries. However, on the final drive to close it out, blast away, blast away, blast away. It was just enough to get out alive.
6. USC got nailed with 11 penalties for 117 yards – highlighted by an unsportsmanlike penalty on a Reggie Bush high five – but Utah was destroyed by flags. Penalties have been a slight problem all year, but the 16 sins for 120 yards killed drive after drive – there just wasn’t any flow to the team’s game. That was also partially because …
5. Utah lost star RB Zack Moss early on. USC losing Kedon Slovis mattered, but not having Moss as the workhorse seemed to take the Utes a bit out of their groove. There was still a great night from the ground game with 247 yards being spread around by eight different Utes, and QB Tyler Huntley did what he could with 60 yards on the ground, but Moss should’ve been the difference-maker – he owned the Trojans in his three previous games. Even without him …
4. USC just never seemed to have the ball. Give credit to the Trojan defense for holding up like it did despite being on the field for almost 40 minutes. The Trojans were great at striking quickly, but Utah was able to grind the game out. It couldn’t convert drives into enough points, again, partially because of the penalties.
3. No, this does nothing to change the hopes and dreams of USC fans who want Urban Meyer as the head coach. With all of the changes in the athletic department, and with the chance at getting Meyer – if he wants it – nothing short of a national title will keep that from happening if there’s a shot at bring in one of the all-time greats. However, this is a really, really, really young USC team, and Helton is getting the job done despite losing two starting quarterbacks in four weeks.
2. This doesn’t screw up Utah in the Pac-12 chase, but it’s going to take a little work now. USC is now 2-0 in the Pac-12, but it has to still go to Washington, Colorado, Arizona State and Cal – it might lose at least two of those four, if not three, and it also hosts Oregon.
Utah? No Oregon, Washington State is a home game, and Arizona State has to come to Salt Lake City. There’s a trip to Washington, but there are just two other road games left at Oregon State and Arizona. This loss hurts, but the Utes are fine.
1. No, this doesn’t end the Pac-12’s College Football Playoff dream. The unwritten formula still stands. Go 12-1 and win your Power Five conference title, and unless you’re 2018 Ohio State and there’s an unbeaten Notre Dame in the equation, you’re going to get in.
Washington is still alive. Oregon is absolutely still alive. Arizona State and Washington State are still unbeaten. USC isn’t going to win out, but it only has one loss.
Again, Utah’s schedule isn’t that bad. If it holds serve at home and beats Washington in Seattle, it can be 11-1 going into the Pac-12 Championship. This hurts the league’s CFP hopes, but no, it’s not a deathblow.