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The USC Trojans are heading in the right direction riding a three-game win streak as they head on the road for a PAC-12 matchup against the Utah Utes.
Trojans hitting stride
Following a slow start out of the gate to the 2018 season dropping two out of their first two games of the season, the Trojans have made some major strides over the last few weeks pushing forward with three straight wins. It has seen USC play some of their best football of the year that has seen them find much balance on the offense with their offense in both through the air and on the ground despite ranking 96th overall in the nation. Freshman quarterback JT Daniels has had his fair share of ups and down, but has shown much promise the more games he has gotten under his belt in the 2018 campaign. He is coming off a productive outing in the 31-20 win over the Colorado Buffalo completing 17 of 34 passes for 272 yards with three touchdown and two interceptions. This marked his second three-touchdown performance and the fifth time that he has notched more than 200 passing yards.
— USC Trojans (@USC_Athletics) October 14, 2018
It saw a big outing from junior wide receiver Michael Pittman Jr., who had five catches for 144 receiving yards and a pair of touchdowns. Although he didn’t put him a strong outing against Colorado, running back Aca’Cedric Ware has been the leading factor in the backfield with 358 rushing yards and three touchdowns this season. USC hasn’t had the most explosive offense this season, but they have done more than enough to get past formidable opponents in Colorado and Washington State in the last couple of weeks. However, it has been their defense that has stepped up ranking 36th in the nation that includes being 44th against the pass that will be key against Utah that will be needed to set the tone on the road against a formidable PAC-12 opponent.
Offensive firepower leading Utah’ surge
Following a 2-2 start to the 2018 season, the Utes have stepped it up over the last two games pouring in back-to-back 40-point efforts in blowout wins over Arizona and Stanford. This has seen their running game lead the charge with more than 200 rushing in each of the last two contests. Running back Zack Moss has been leading the charge with 617 rushing yards and seven touchdowns through the first six games played. Moss has poured in three 100-yard rushing performances while notching more than 60 yards and a touchdown in each contest. This includes 160 yards against Stanford and a pair of touchdowns and followed it up 68 yards in on 15 carries and a touchdown on Arizona last Saturday.
Utah with the reverse ⏪and the shot down field 🎯 pic.twitter.com/yGWC4qfhjW
— ESPN CollegeFootball (@ESPNCFB) October 13, 2018
The Utes have also had some steady play under center with quarter Tyler Huntley throwing for 1,221 yards with seven touchdown passes for three interceptions on the season. Huntley hasn’t had any standout performances that has seen him fail to complete a touchdown pass and has yet to record more than 300 passing yards in the first six games played. Utah does hold the 57th ranked passing attack in the nation. If Utah hopes to pull out a third straight win, it will require their running game to keep up their strong level of production against USC’s defense that ranks 51st against the run that gives up 151.8 yards on the ground per contest while giving up just 4.2 yards attempt. This will require Moss to carry the running game in hopes of moving the team toward another win over a PAC-12 opponent for the second straight game at home.
- Utes are 1-4 ATS in their last 5 home games vs. a team with a winning road record.
- Trojans are 7-2-1 ATS in their last 10 games following an ATS win.
- Trojans are 7-2 ATS in their last 9 games after allowing less than 100 yards rushing in their previous game.
The Bottom Line What to bet on this game.
Full-Game Side Bet
The Trojans are hedging in the right direction with steady play behind Daniels over the last few weeks. This along with their defense picking it up over the last few weeks should see them pull out a win on the road. It should be a statement game for Daniels in his brief USC career that has puts the school back in the picture.
Prediction: USC +6.5
Full-Game Total Pick
Although both teams are hitting stride, they have both been middle of the pack in terms of putting points on the board. This has seen USC rank 90th in the nation with 25.7 per game while Utah is 70th with 28.5 points per contest. What also shows that trend will continue as the under is 4-0 in Trojans last four games following a straight up win. Meanwhile, the under is 4-0 in the Utes last for four games following a straight up win.