Tonight will go a long way towards determining how the Pac-12 South shakes out this year. The solid favorite in the division, No. 10 Utah, travels to Los Angeles to face a talented but embattled USC squad.
The Trojans opened the year 2-0, sneaking past Fresno State and then blowing out Stanford. Just when it looked like the ship might be righted, Clay Helton's team fell to BYU in Provo, 30-27 last week.
Utah has ridden a top defense to a 3-0 start, beating that same BYU team on the road 30-12, followed by double-digit wins over Northern Illinois and Idaho State. If Helton is to save his job, knocking off the Utes at home and potentially inserting his team in the division driver's seat would be a great start.
That is, of course, much easier said than done.
The Utes and Trojans are the headliner for this Friday night slate.
Game Time: 9:00 p.m. ET
Spread: Utah -3.5
Announcers: Joe Davis, Brock Huard, Bruce Feldman
To Clay Helton's credit, he was dealt an extremely tough hand for a coach on the hot seat, with an early season injury to former blue-chip quarterback JT Daniels. Daniels' sophomore year emergence was seen as key to Helton sticking around long term.
Insert freshman Kedon Slovis, who has put up incredibly impressive numbers in the Trojans offense. Since entering late in the Week 1 victory, Slovis is completing 77.3-percent of his throws for a rock-solid 9.5 yards per attempt. He has 715 yards, five touchdowns, and four interceptions.
The tests so far haven't matched up to what Utah will bring defensively tonight, though. USC's 22nd-ranked offense, per ESPN's SP+ model, is set for a showdown with Utah's 24th-ranked defense. The Utes have surrendered just 174.3 yards per game through the air.
Utah also has a pretty dynamic duo in its offensive backfield. Tyler Huntley has been very efficient, throwing for over 11 yards per attempt and completing 77.8-percent of his throws. He has four touchdowns with no interceptions. Running back Zack Moss has 373 yards and four touchdowns on the ground, gaining 6.5 yards per clip.