The USC Trojans are trying to find the magic they had for so many years. That magic came to an end after the Reggie Bush era, as they are still attempting to recover from the sanctions placed on them. If you recall, Bush was found to receive improper benefits, resulting in the NCAA coming down on USC hard. Pete Carroll dipped out of town to the Seattle Seahawks, leaving the program in a state of disarray. The most recent turmoil on campus came last season, after head coach Steve Sarkasian came to practice drunk.
Sarkasian was quickly relieved of his duties, and the carrousel of issues continued at USC. I didn’t like the Sarkasian to begin with, not knowing he had a drinking problem. Simply because I thought that USC could do better than him. This is all goes without mentioning the Lane Kiffin era, which ultimately was a dumpster fire as well.
The Trojans believed they had their next Mark Sanchez or Matt Leinart at quarterback this season. Say what you want about Sanchez and Leinart, but they were quality quarterbacks in college. USC is searching for another Heisman candidate, but Max Browne has proven to come up well short in that department. Browne’s confidence may have been shaken right off the bat against Alabama, enduring a 52-6 beating. Browne looked lost against the Crimson Tide, as he threw for just 101 yards with an interception. It was that interception that pretty much put a dagger in the game and turned it in Alabama’s favor.
Browne has threw for 474 yards, with 2 touchdowns and 2 interceptions. That isn’t good enough for USC, who are now turning to redshirt freshman, Sam Darnold. Browne was surprised that he got benched, and Darnold was equally surprised that he was going to be starting Friday night against Utah. From the media reports I’ve read, USC players do not seem too excited at the prospect of Darnold starting. The whole program has seemed lifeless over the past few years, and this is pretty much par for the course. Drama off the field, and drama on it. The Trojans will look to get on track tonight in Utah.
USC Trojans vs. Utah Utes NCAAF Betting Odds:
vs. Utah -3(-110)
Odds provided by Bovada.lv
USC vs. Utah Pick:
USC hasn’t been able to duplicate the same talent they had on their team back when they were playing in Rose Bowls on a consistent basis. USC is now competing in the same category as teams competing for the Las Vegas and Holiday Bowl. Talent is a problem, but I don’t think it’s as problematic as the confidence and swagger this team has. Everybody just sort of accepts mediocracy at USC now. Their attitude after finding out Browne is getting benched pretty much says it all. It doesn’t help that head coach Clay Helton isn’t very well liked.
Darnold has gotten some playing time this season, with his best outing coming against Utah State, where he passed for 2 touchdowns. On 5/7 passing last week vs Stanford, he managed to go for 45 yards passing and an interception.
Utah puts their 3-0 record on the line tonight at home. They haven’t had the best of tests against Southern Utah, BYU, and San Jose State, but the 20-19 win against BYU was a good win. Their defense hasn’t allowed much at all, entering tonight allowing just 12 points per game. Utah has had a stout defense all the way back to when Urban Meyer (yes he coached Utah) was the head coach beating Alabama in the Sugar Bowl.
I fully expect a hungry Utah defense tonight. Although USC has not been the same team lately as in the past, beating USC always has to feel good for a team. With the Trojans team morale is at an all-time low, I don’t see their offense getting up tonight to play a tough, physical Utah defense. Look for USC to fold like a lawn chair after getting beat up for a couple of quarters. Utah is jacked up for this game, USC not so much. The only thing USC players are jacked up about is punching out their head coach. The Utes should be able to capitalize on their drama and secure a 6 or 7-point win.
PICK: UTAH -3 (-110)