College Football Primetime
USC (1-2) vs Utah (3-0)
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 (Enter Contest). 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.
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 Utah’s senior wide receiver Tim Patrick.
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. They already have four in 2016, with all of them caught by Patrick.
Utah’s defense 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.