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Dawg Preview: #14 Utah vs. #15 USC


USC
Via College Football Dawgs

Who has the power? The best player in college football, Caleb Williams, is looking to right the ship for the USC Trojans after an underwhelming showing against Notre Dame last Saturday in South Bend. We saw the junior quarterback throw three interceptions against the Irish and, unfortunately for USC, turnovers were the cause of their demise. The Southern Cal defense did all that they could possibly do, but momentum swings and great field position unfortunately sealed their fate.


Utah on the other hand, is without their injured quarterback Cam Rising. Rising led Utah to two victories over USC in 2022 and after suffering a serious knee injury in the Rose Bowl in January, we have yet to see him make his debut in 2023. Without Rising, the Utah offense is not nearly as explosive as many expected, but their defense has risen to the occasion all season setting the Utes up for a very respectable season.


Broadcast Information Utah vs USC:

Time: 8:00 PM Eastern Time Kickoff

TV: Fox

Call: Jason Benetti and Brock Huard, with Allison Williams on the sideline.

Utah Radio: will be on 700 AM and 92.1 FM.

USC Radio: 790 AM.


What’s at Stake?

What is at stake is positioning in the Pac-12 Standings. With a win, USC moves to 5-0 in league play during the toughest portion of their schedule, which may be the hardest stretch in the entire country. Utah on the other hand will be facing their second true road test of the year, after losing their first road game at Oregon State. Utah still controls their destiny sitting at 3-1 in conference play. USC can keep their national title hopes alive with a win in the Coliseum tonight.


Key Players:

Caleb Williams is important for USC in every game, but in this matchup, he is not the biggest piece of the puzzle. The two key aspects are establishing a run game and protecting the quarterback. Marshawn Lloyd needs a big game, and the offensive line must protect Williams and give him time to make plays. Lloyd needs at least 15-20 carries in this game after recording only eight against Notre Dame. As for the protecting of Williams, Utah, defensive end Jonah Elliss leads the nation with nine sacks. The offensive line will have their hands full with Elliss.


Utah safety Sione Vaki will be a huge factor in this game. Vaki is tied for the lead in tackles on the Utes defense with 32 and he also plays on offense as a running back. Vaki is third on the Utes with 164 rushing yards and two touchdowns.


Key Matchups:

For Utah, can their defense stop the high-powered attack that USC presents? They have risen to the occasion each game this season, including in their 21-7 loss to Oregon State. On offense, higher output will be needed and if Utah cannot score at least 30 points, it will be hard to pull off this road challenge. With quarterback reps split between Nate Johnson and Bryson Barnes, Utah will have no choice but to get the passing game going. Utah has four touchdown passes on the season and realistically that number needs to be doubled after this game if the Utes are going to win.

Utah needs to get into the backfield and make Caleb Williams as uncomfortable as possible. The Utes average about one forced fumble, one interception, and just under four sacks per game. If Utah can shut down the USC offense, they must put points on the board.


Prediction:

Expect a chess match in 'Utah vs USC' between two teams that have completely opposite strengths. This game on paper should be a lower-scoring game. The problem here is that you will see a Caleb Williams that no one has ever seen, the version of him that is coming off a bad week. Expect Caleb to step his game up and the Trojans move to 5-0 in Pac-12 play.


USC 30 - Utah 17

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