USC Trojans at Utah Utes (+13.5, 47.5)
THE STORY: Southern California’s preseason billing took a big hit in mid-September and the No. 12 Trojans have the opportunity to take another step toward again becoming part of the national championship picture when they visit Utah on Thursday.
The Trojans suffered a 21-14 loss to Stanford on Sept. 15 after being hyped as perhaps the nation’s top team. USC can’t afford any further stumbles and will need to win an early November showdown with Oregon to regain its lofty status.
Utah was routed 37-7 by Arizona State in its last outing Sept. 22 and the Utes need to get star running back John White going. White has only 233 yards this season after setting a school record last year with 1,519.
Both teams are coming off byes and USC is visiting Salt Lake City for the first time since 1917. The last time these teams met, the Trojans took a 17-14 win at home after having a TD from a blocked field goal with no time remaining erased due to an excessive celebration penalty. Two hours after the game was final, the NCAA upheld the touchdown and changed the score to 23-14, causing chaos among sportsbooks who had USC favored by 8.5 points.
TV: 9 p.m. ET, ESPN.
LINE: USC opened as high as -14 in Las Vegas while some online markets opened the Trojans -13.
CONSENSUS: 62 percent of Covers Consensus players are on USC Thursday night.
ABOUT USC (3-1, 1-1 Pac-12 South, 1-3 ATS): The Trojans defeated California 27-9 in their last outing in a contest in which the running game (296 yards) was more productive then senior quarterback Matt Barkley (192 yards). The Heisman Trophy candidate was intercepted twice and has been picked off five times to go with 1,005 yards and 12 touchdowns. Penn State transfer Silas Redd has rushed for a team-best 338 yards and four scores. Sophomore receiver Marqise Lee already has 40 receptions for 457 yards. Junior defensive end Morgan Breslin leads the Pac-12 with 5.5 sacks while sophomore linebacker Dion Bailey leads the Trojans in tackles (32) and interceptions (three). USC has recorded 16 sacks and eight interceptions.
ABOUT UTAH (2-2, 0-1, 1-3 ATS): The Utes have struggled offensively since losing quarterback Jordan Wynn to a career-ending shoulder injury. Senior Jon Hays passed for only 117 yards in the loss to Arizona State and White had only 18 yards on 14 carries. The bye week has given White time to physically recover from an ankle injury that caused him to miss a game against Brigham Young. Utah expects to have junior defensive end Joe Kruger (2.5 sacks, two forced fumbles) and sophomore safety Eric Rowe back from injuries as the defense looks to bounce back after allowing 512 yards against Arizona State.
* Trojans are 5-1 ATS in their last six conference games.
* Utes are 5-12 ATS in their last 17 conference games.
* Under is 6-2 in Utes last eight home games.
* Under is 4-1 in Trojans last five games overall.
1. USC is 7-3 against Utah and won last year’s contest 23-14.
2. Utah is 6-1 after byes during Kyle Whittingham’s nine seasons as coach.
3. The Trojans have gone 185 games since last being shut out, one shy of the school-record streak set from 1967-1983.