Utah (6-0, 3-0) at USC (3-3, 1-2)
When: Saturday, October 24th, 2015
Where: L.A. Memorial Coliseum, Los Angels, CA
Time: 7:30 ET | TV: FOX
The USC Trojans will be playing their second game under interim coach Clay Helton, who took over for Steve Sarkisian earlier this month. The Trojans are looking to avoid their first three-game losing streak in three years as they host the undefeated Utah Utes. USC senior quarterback Cody Kessler has been in a bit of a tailspin with five interceptions in the past three games, matching his interception total for the entire 2014 campaign. He started the year off with 10 touchdowns and zero interceptions thru the first three games. Overall, Kessler has passed for 1,818 yards and 17 touchdowns. His favorite target is receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster, who has 39 receptions for 758 yards and seven touchdowns this season. The running game is a split between Ronald Jones II (team-leading 389 rushing yards) and senior Tre Madden (356). Defensively, the Trojans are not very good ranking 76th in yards allowed with 402.5 a game. Outside linebacker Su’a Cravens (5.5 tackles for losses) is the leader of the unit and freshman middle linebacker Cameron Smith has a team-best 53 tackles.
Utah is the trendy pick to get to the College Football Playoff this year and the way they are playing, I would say so. Utah has a two-game lead in the Pac-12 South with a relatively easy schedule the rest of the way. After tonight, their toughest remaining game is probably at Arizona. They still play UCLA, but that will be in Salt Lake City. Opponents are having a hard time running on the Utes. They rank 19th nationally allowing only 113 yards a game on the ground. Offensively, they’re not bad and are led by Senior quarterback Travis Wilson who has passed for 980 yards and seven touchdowns while throwing just three interceptions. Senior running back Devontae Booker is averaging almost 27 carries per game and has rushed for 783 yards and eight touchdowns while also leading the Utes with 23 receptions. Utah is not getting much respect from the oddsmakers as they come into this game as 3.5 point underdogs.
Although, I believe the Trojans will play better now that Sarkisian is gone, I don’t like the fact that Kessler is regressing. This is a very opportunistic Utah defense that will cause him problems. Booker should have a big day and the Utes will win this game.
Pick: Utah +3.5