- Associated Press - Thursday, September 22, 2016

USC (1-2, 0-1 Pac-12) at No. 24 Utah (3-0, 0-0), 9:00 p.m. EST (FS1)

Line: Utah by 3

Series Record: USC leads 10-4


The Trojans began the season with one of the toughest schedules in the country, playing three ranked teams in four games. USC needs a victory to avoid its first 1-3 start since 2001. Starting the conference season 0-2 would put the Trojans in a serious hole in the Pac-12 South and there are grumblings that coach Clay Helton may be on the hot seat in his first year. Utah faces its toughest matchup of the season and would like to start the conference season on the right foot.


USC has been gashed by the run game in two of its three games. Alabama posted 242 rushing yards and Stanford totaled 302. The Trojans rank No. 98 in the nation in run defense, allowing 197.67 yards per game. The Utes are a legitimate threat with the passing game for the first time since joining the Pac-12 in 2011, but the run game remains the foundation of the offense. Freshman Zack Moss has rushed for 153 yards in two games.


USC: QB Sam Darnold. The redshirt freshman will replace Max Browne as the starter. Darnold has played in all three games and thrown for 136 yards, two touchdowns, one interception and completed 63.6 percent of his passes. He also provides a running threat.

Utah: QB Troy Williams. The first-year starter has jump-started the Utes passing game with 241.0 yards per game and a 62.8 completion percentage. The former Washington signee has the speed to scramble, but continues to look to pass while extending plays out of the pocket. The Utes haven’t had a quarterback average more than 225 yards since 2008.


Utah’s 6-foot-5 WR Tim Patrick is tied for No. 6 in the country with four touchdowns. … Utah’s eight turnovers is tied for sixth most in the nation. … USC starting DT Stevie Tu’ikolovatu played 13 games for Utah last season. … Trojans WR JuJu Smith-Schuster was first team All-Pac-12 in 2015 and has 11 catches for 99 yards and two touchdowns.

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