Under first-year defensive coordinator Alex Grinch, USC is playing an aggressive brand of football.

Call it a defense getting lucky, a defense being opportunistic, or simply a squad executing by design. Whatever you want to term it, it’s working. the Trojans are leading the country in two key defensive statistics at the midway point of the year.

No team in college football has more interceptions than USC’s 12. No team in college football has more sacks than USC’s 24.

The sack number is particularly important considering last year’s defense had 21 in 12 games. USC has already topped that with seven (… or eight? or more?) games to play.

Are there any two more important defensive plays than sacks and takeaways? That USC is dominating in both categories is as big a reason for the 6-0 record as any.

USC beat Washington State on Saturday 30-14, pitching a shutout in the second half. The Trojans are dominating second halves of late, particularly on the defensive side of the ball. The Cougs had the ball for more than 12 minutes and gained only seven first downs. They averaged 4.4 yards a play while USC created enough separation.

The Trojans finished with five sacks and nine tackles for loss in the game.

“We tried to talk to this team about how we don’t want to play one style on offense, one style on defense, one style on special teams,” said coach Lincoln Riley after the game. “We want people to watch us and see a similar style no matter what unit is on the field. Defense has led us to some huge victories, and I’m proud of them. But I know there’s more there, and I know we’re going to keep getting better and responding to the different adversities that come our way.”

USC will want to keep it rolling, but Week 7 presents the toughest matchup yet. On Saturday, the Trojans face No. 20 Utah in Salt Lake City. The Utes enter the game averaging nearly as many points as USC does — 40.3, good for 14th nationally. (USC averages 40.2 a game, which ranks 15th.)

Kickoff is set for 5 p.m. PT on FOX.