ESPN's SP+ predicts outcome of Pac-12 title rematch between USC, Utah
Bill Connelly’s SP+ likes the Trojans to rebound from a disastrous trip to South Bend.
The predictive model is calling for a 31-25 USC win over the visiting Utah Utes on Saturday. At the Coliseum, SP+ gives Utah a 36% chance to leave with a win.
A USC win would be an upset if you go by rankings, but USC is favored in the game.
The 14th-ranked Utes are 5-1 and coming off a 34-14 win over Cal last week in Salt Lake City. Road games have been a major adventure for the offense, which continues to be without starting quarterback Cameron Rising. Last week offered something of a breakthrough, though.
Utah turned to safety Sione Vaki as an option in the run game. With Ja’Quinden Jackson back healthy and Vaki exploding in a new role, Utah ran for 317 yards and four touchdowns on 6 yards a carry. Vaki provided 158 of that, Jackson another 94.
It was a re-emergence for a ground game that had been keyed on to that point. Jackson was banged up going into the team’s bye week in Week 6. And with Rising unavailable, the partnership of Bryson Barnes and Nate Johnson struggled heavily to produce much of anything that demanded a defense’s respect.
That quarterback uncertainty lingers into this week, where the Utes will have to find a way to either replicate Notre Dame’s Week 7 gameplan or keep up with Caleb Williams and the Trojan offense.
USC is averaging nearly 2 yards per play more at home than it is on the road. Williams’ completion percentage is five points higher at home than on the road, and none of his interceptions have come at the Coliseum.
Kickoff Saturday is set for 5 p.m. PT on FOX.