LOS ANGELES — Following Saturday night’s debacle in South Bend, USC will look to bounce back this weekend at the Coliseum. And the Trojans will have the chance to do so against a familiar foe: the Utah Utes.
Last season, Utah was the only team to defeat USC in the regular season, winning a 43-42 instant classic in Salt Lake City to hand head coach Lincoln Riley the first defeat of his USC career. The Utes also defeated the Trojans 47-24 in the Pac-12 Championship Game in Las Vegas, denying head coach Lincoln Riley and his team a conference title, and keeping the Trojans out of the College Football.
This season, the Utes once again appear to be a strong team. Utah comes into the contest at 5-1, despite redshirt senior star quarterback Cam Rising—who torched the Trojans’ defense in both of last season’s matchups—having missed the first six games due to injury. While Utah has continued to not reveal much information about Rising’s status it appears unlikely that he will suit up Saturday. The Utes have utilized a combination of redshirt junior Bryson Barnes and redshirt freshman Nate Johnson in Rising’s absence.
However, the Trojans are not immune from dealing with injury issues of their own. According to Riley, redshirt senior safety Max Williams is “questionable” for Saturday’s matchup. Riley added that regardless of whether or not Williams plays, he expects redshirt freshman Zion Branch, who filled in for Williams after he suffered an injury against Notre Dame, to play a significant role.
Riley also added that the Trojans have practiced with an additional sense of fire this week following Saturday’s defeat. He told reporters Thursday that the Trojans are “very hungry, very competitive right now. We’ve practiced our tails off this week.”
USC is currently a seven-point favorite in the matchup.
Trojans fall in polls
After Saturday’s defeat, USC dropped in both the AP and Coaches Polls. The Trojans fell eight spots from No. 8 to No. 18 in the AP poll. In the Coaches Poll, they dropped seven spots from No. 9 to No. 16.
Notre Dame, meanwhile, rose in both polls. The Irish climbed from No. 21 in both polls last week to No. 15 in the AP and No. 18 in the Coaches Poll this week.
USC’s next opponent, Utah, is currently ranked No. 14 in both polls. The Trojans also have contests remaining against No. 5 Washington, No. 9 (AP)/No. 11 (Coaches) Oregon, and No. 25 UCLA.
Upcoming kickoff times
This Saturday’s matchup with Utah will kick off at 5:00 PM PDT. It will air on Fox.
Earlier this week, the Pac-12 announced that USC’s October 28 contest at Cal will kick off at 1:00 PM PT, and air on the Pac-12 Network. This was an unexpected development, in that the Trojans had already hit their quota of two Pac-12 Network kickoffs for the season. However, with USC coming off of an embarrassing loss and Cal struggling through another trying season, ESPN and Fox decided to air other Pac-12 games that day instead. Thus, the Trojans and Bears will be relegated to former conference commissioner Larry Scott’s fiasco of a network.