USC is off to its worst start since 2001 and its upcoming schedule won’t get any easier as the Trojans travel to face No. 23 Utah in a Pac-12 game Friday night. USC is coming off a 27-10 loss Saturday at No. 6 Stanford, which dropped its record to 1-2 for the first time since Pete Carroll’s first season with the Trojans 15 years ago, and coach Clay Helton responded by replacing starting quarterback Max Browne, a junior, with freshman Sam Darnold.
The Utes won’t have any pity for USC after the Trojans upset them 42-24 last season when they came to Los Angeles ranked No. 7, spoiling a 6-0 start. That game was the debut of Helton, who was made the permanent coach later in the season but has gone 1-4 since. Utah is led by quarterback Troy Williams, an L.A.-area product who is coming off a 20-for-28 performance last weekend against San Jose State, finishing with 257 yards and a touchdown. The Utes didn’t throw a touchdown pass until their third game last season, but already have four in 2016 – all to senior wide receiver Tim Patrick.
TV: 9 p.m. ET., FOX Sports 1.
LINE HISTORY: Utah opened this game favored by a point and a half, but bettors have moved that number all the way to Utes -3. The total opened at 46.5 and has yet to move off of that number. Check out the complete line history here.
USC – CB J. Plattenburg (probable Friday, concussion), TE T. Petite (probable Friday, thigh), DT M. Dorton (questionable Friday, hip), TE T. McNamara (questionable Friday, foot), C K. Rodgers (questionable Friday, hamstring), DT N. Jefferson (questionable Friday, shoulder), QB M. Fink (questionable Friday, ankle), LB Q. Powell (questionable friday, illness).
Utah- DB D. Hatfield (questionable Friday, leg), T S. Tevi (questionable Friday, back), DE K. Fitts (out Friday, foot).
WEATHER REPORT: It could be a messy night in Salt Lake City. There is a 100 perent of rain at kickoff with temperatures in the high 40’s. There will also be a six to seven mile per hour wind blowing towards the northeast corner of the stadium.
WHAT SHARPS SAY: “USC returned 10 offensive starters this season. The only offensive starter they lost from last year’s squad was QB Cody Kessler who threw for 3,536 yards with a 29/7 touchdown/interception ratio. It turns out that one lost starter was tough to replace as the Trojans passing game has struggled this season, averaging just 5.6 yards per pass (versus opponents that have allowed 6.6 ypp). USC will now be facing a strong Utah pass defense that has allowed just 4.9 yards per pass this season (versus opponent that average 5.6 ypp).” – Covers Expert Steve Merril.
WHAT BOOKS SAY: “We had Utah as a -1.5 point favorite earlier this week and it has been bet all the way to Utah -3.5 with over 70 percent of the action on Utah to cover.” – Michael Stewart of CarbonSports.ag.
ABOUT USC (1-2, 1-2 ATS, 1-2 O/U): Adoree’ Jackson is one of the most versatile and entertaining players in Division I and may need to take over this game to get the Trojans back on track. He’s a three-year starter at cornerback and also plays wide receiver and returns punt and kickoffs, putting him in the rare position of scoring touchdowns on a reception, interception return, punt and kickoff return during his career. Jackson, who limited Alabama sophomore wide receiver Calvin Ridley to two catches for nine yards in the season opener earlier this month, figures to draw the task of covering Patrick.
ABOUT UTAH (3-0, 1-2 ATS, 1-2 O/U): The Utes delivered 10 sacks against San Jose and look to get after Darnold against one of the most experienced offensive lines in the country. Hunter Dimick leads the way with three sacks for Utah and brings plenty of experience, starting 23 games in his college career. Kylie Fitts was expected to be a key part of the defensive line, but suffered a season-ending injury two weeks ago, increasing the role of Filipo Mokofisi, who move from defensive tackle to Fitts’ former spot at defensive end last week and produced two sacks.
* Home team is 5-0 ATS in their last five meetings.
* Utah is 1-6 ATS in its last seven games following a ATS win.
* Under is 9-3 in USC’s last 12 road games.
* Under is 5-1 in Utah’s last six home games.
COVERS CONSENSUS: Bettors are strongly behind the home team in this Pac-12 showdown, with 67 percetn of wagers backing Utah. As for the total, bettors are siding with over, with 59 percent of wagers on it.
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