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No. 20 USC Football Stays On The Road To Face Utah

Nov 15, 2020


*No. 20 USC — owning 2 late comeback victories to open 2020 — remains on the road this week when it travels to defending Pac-12 South champion Utah, where the Trojans have not fared well in their last 3 visits.

*For the third week in a row, USC will be facing an opponent playing its first game of the season.

*The 8:30 p.m. kickoff on ESPN is the latest for USC in 65 years...and the weather could be a factor.

*After this trip, USC stays in the Southern California area for the rest of its announced 2020 schedule.

*USC coach Clay Helton's USC is turning into the "Cardiac Kids 2.0" after securing another win in the final moments, this time with 25 seconds to play at Arizona last Saturday. USC's offense, which ranks in the national Top 10 in total and passing offense, is guided by QB Kedon Slovis, who leads the country in completions and is in the Top 10 in passing yards, completion percentage and total offense. His top pass targets are WRs Amon-Ra St. Brown and Tyler Vaughns, who both are in USC's Top 20 career receiving list (Vaughns is seventh and climbing) along with 2-sport star Drake London. Troy's running game features 1,000-yard career runners TBs Stephen Carr and Vavae Malepeai and power back Markese Stepp. The Trojan defense, which posted 4 sacks at Arizona, is getting impressive play from OLB Drake Jackson (he made crucial end-of-game plays on the quarterback in both of USC's games), the DL Tuipulotu brothers Marlon and Tuli, and Ss Talanoa Hufanga and Isaiah Pola-Mao.

*Utah has had its first two scheduled games (versus Arizona and UCLA) cancelled due to COVID issues. Kyle Whittingham is the Pac-12's dean of coaches, in his 16th year. His Utes are the ninth youngest team in the FBS in 2020 after losing all 8 players it placed on last year's All-Pac-12 first team. Leading the offense at quarterback will be either Cam Rising, a transfer from Texas, Jake Bentley, a South Carolina transfer who started 33 times there, or Drew Lisk. Departed Pac-12 Offensive Player of the Year RB Zack Moss' replacement will be either RB Devin Brumfield or Jordan Wilmore. Utah has a stable of receivers, including WRs Britain Covey, Bryan Thompson and Solomon Enis and TEs Cole Fotheringham and Brant Kuithe. Top defenders on a unit that lost 9 starters from 2019 include LBs Nephi Sewell and Devin Lloyd and DE Mike Tafua.

*It is fitting that USC, which has produced more Olympians, medalists and gold medalists than any U.S. university, is playing in a stadium that hosted Olympic opening/closing ceremonies (Troy has played in 3 such stadiums).


*USC is ranked No. 20 in the current AP sports media poll and 19th in the Amway coaches poll. Utah is not ranked.


*USC holds a 12-6 record over Utah, including 2-4 in Salt Lake City (Troy has lost in its past 3 trips there). Since Utah joined the Pac-12, Troy is 5-3 versus the Utes, but the Trojans have lost 3 of the past 5 games.

*In 2018 in the most recent meeting in Salt Lake City, after USC opened up an early 14-0 lead, Utah scored the game's next 34 points behind the play of QB Tyler Huntley and a suffocating defense en route to a 41-28 win over the Trojans. It was USC's third straight loss in Salt Lake City.

*Last year in the Coliseum, QB Matt Fink--who came off the bench when starting QB Kedon Slovis was knocked out of the game after the second play--threw for 351 yards with 3 TDs and WR Michael Pittman Jr. caught 10 throws for 232 yards and a long score to lead USC to a 30-23 victory over No. 10 Utah on a Friday night. It was Utah's ninth straight loss in the Coliseum. USC scored more points than the Utes had allowed in their first 3 games combined. See page 4 for a complete recap of that most recent matchup.


*This Saturday's 8:30 p.m. kickoff is the latest for a USC game since the Trojans welcomed Wisconsin to the Coliseum at 8:30 p.m. in 1955 (Troy also hosted Oregon and Texas earlier that season at 8:30 p.m.).


*USC is 181-67-4 (.726) at night, including 107-30-4 in the Coliseum, 59-29 on the road and 15-8 at neutral sites. (Does not include 5 wins and 1 loss vacated due to NCAA penalty; original record: 186-68-4, .729 overall, 110-30-4 in the Coliseum, 17-9 at neutral sites, USC had a school-record 32-game win streak at home at night from 1997 to 2010.)


*Weather could be a factor when playing a night game in Salt Lake City in mid-November.

*USC is 13-12-1 in "cold weather" games (where the cold temperature had such an impact on the game that it was mentioned in the media's game recaps). The last time USC played a "cold weather" game was at Colorado in 2019 (a 35-31 win when it was in the mid-40s). The coldest game in USC history: 20 degrees in the snow at Notre Dame in 1957 (a 40-12 loss). The second coldest USC games were 29 degrees at the 1949, 1952 and 1959 Notre Dame games in South Bend and the 2013 Colorado road game.

*USC has a 23-23-2 record in games in which it rained during a major portion of the contest. USC's last rain game was versus Notre Dame at home in 2016 (USC won, 45-27). *The last time USC played in snow was Nov. 30, 1957 at Notre Dame (the Irish won, 40-12). It was 20 degrees. USC's only other snow game was a 25-19 loss at Minnesota on Oct. 29, 1955. The 1965 USC-Notre Dame game in South Bend was played in sleet and rain (the Irish won that one, 28-7).


*USC is 45-30-1 in its last 75 games on artificial turf (not including 3 wins vacated due to NCAA penalty; original record: 48-30-1).


*USC has won 70.1% (476-195-29) of its games against current Pac-12 opponents (not including 9 wins later vacated due to NCAA penalty; original record: 485-195-29, 70.5%).


*USC has a 265-134-20 (.656) all-time record while playing in the month of November (not including 3 wins vacated due to NCAA penalty; original record: 268-134-20, .659).


*Besides its 12-6 mark versus Utah, USC is 6-0 against Utah State and 2-1 versus BYU.


*USC has 1 player from Utah (ILB Tayler Katoa of Layton HS), while Utah has 31 Californians on its roster.

*ILB Tayler Katoa's sister, Eliza, was a outside hitter on the Utes' women's volleyball team (2014-16) and also played on the Utes' beach volleyball team in 2017.

*Utah football recruiting assistant Kevin Carrasco was a safety at USC (2013-16) and then served as a defensive intern with the Trojans in 2017.

*Utah LB Moroni Anae is the cousin of former USC OLB-S Su'a Cravens (2013-15) .

*Utah head coach Kyle Whittingham is related by marriage to former USC OLB-S Su'a Cravens (2013-15). *Harvey Holmes was the head coach at both Utah (1900-03) and USC (1904-07).

*WR Tyler Vaughns' brother, Aaren, was a wide receiver at Utah State (2017-18).

*ILB Solomon Tuliaupupu's father, Turnbull, was an offensive lineman at Southern Utah (2000-01) and Solomon spent part of his youth in Utah.

*Defensive quality control analyst Brett Arce's father was an assistant basketball coach at Utah State.