The Utah Utes (6-0 SU, 4-2 ATS) are in first place in the Pac-12 South, three games ahead of the USC Trojans (3-3 SU and ATS). The Trojans have just fired head coach Steve Sarkisian and replaced him on an interim basis with offensive coordinator Clay Helton. Yet the Trojans are 3-point favorites at press time for Saturday’s matchup (7:30 PM ET, FOX) at the Coliseum.
That might be a bit generous. True, USC has played a tougher schedule thus far, but the Trojans have already lost twice as home favorites, to Stanford (+9.5) and Washington (+17). And they might have to do without receivers Steven Mitchell Jr. (ankle) and Darreus Rogers (hamstring), who have yet to practice this week. Left tackle Chad Wheeler (concussion) is also iffy at best for Saturday.
Utah comes into this game with one of the top defenses in the FBS, and a turnover margin of +12, third behind Miami-Florida and Western Kentucky at +13. Last year’s matchup saw the Utes beat the Trojans 24-21 as 1-point home dogs. Despite Utah’s success, turnovers are fickle, and not everyone is sold on quarterback Travis Wilson, who ranks No. 50 in the FBS in passer rating at 140.45.