USC vs. Utah: Clash in Pac-12 Opener

By Nick Marek

Besides the much anticipated Arizona State vs. Missouri match-up on Friday night on the ESPN network, University of Southern Cal open the Pac-12 season against southern division opponent Utah.

The pressure is on for Matt Barkley and the USC offense. Last weekend, the Trojans squeaked past the Minnesota Goiphers 19-17 thanks to Barkley and Pac-12 All-American receiver Robert Woods connecting for 17 receptions, 177 yards and three touchdowns. Southern California had 415 offensive yards, yet they only beat the Big 10 opponent by two point. Two. Can the QB-WR tangent repeat their magic or does the defense need to toughen up? A little bit of both, actually. If the defense gives up 323 yards to junior Jordan Wynn and his potent offense on Saturday, USC will most likely suffer its first loss of the season.

Utah, the newest member of the Pac-12, is new to playing in a BCS conference so they have a lot of preparation to do this season. The Utes will rally their season around franchise quarterback Wynn. However, in the team’s week one victory over Montana State, the team ran the ball 38 times for 231 yards. This may have been Utah’s strategy because the game was already in hand and by not passing the ball as much, USC has less tape to work with.

Though USC still has one more year on its post season ban, this game is crucial for shaping the Pac-12 south with USC, UT, ASU, and AZ all fighting for the top spot. The Trojans don’t have a light schedule to help them this year. After Utah this weekend, they play Syracuse at home, at Arizona State and home against Arizona. Later in the year, they play Notre Dame, Oregon and Stanford. Just a few years ago, USC would be favorite to win every game they played, but the tables have turned to more even contests. Arizona suffers the same problem. The Wildcats play at Oklahoma State, home against Stanford and then Oregon and away against USC. If they can survive the first five weeks of the season, they could put themselves as the front runners in the south.

Arizona State and Arizona fans should be pulling for the Trojans in this contest because it gives them the best chance of winning the south. Even if USC wins the Pac-12 south regular season, they are ineligible to compete in the Pac-12 championship game. The state of Arizona has a busy couple of days. Arizona takes on #9 Oklahoma State Thursday night on ESPN and Arizona State hosts #21 Missouri on Friday.

If both Arizona teams can survive their week two games, they will be rooting for USC and looking to create a gap with them and Utah.

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