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SALT LAKE CITY - Most that watched the Utes 27-10 victory over Montana State probably left the game thinking the same way, "if they play like this against USC, it'll be a blowout."
Fortunately for the Utes, most people that watched the USC game left thinking the same thing about them.
Both teams roared out of the gate in their first game of the season. The Utes went up by 24 in less than 16 minutes and won by 17. The Trojans were up by 19 at the end of the first half and had to fight off Minnesota for a two-point victory.
Trojans players know that they can't expect a win if they don't score in the second half again.
"I felt we should have beat them worse than we did," linebacker Dion Bailey said to the Whittier Daily News. "For sure we can't have a close one (against Utah)."
Both teams will need to step it up, if not for this game, at least for the rest of the Pac-12 schedule. The teams had different problems moving the ball last week. Utah's John White ran through the Bobcats defense for 150 yards, while Jordan Wynn had only 101 yards passing. USC's Matt Barkley threw for 304 yards and three touchdowns, but the team only mustered 67 rushing yards.
This game should be filled with motivation for both teams. Both want to show that last week was the exception this season. USC wants to keep the new guy down and do all it can to stay atop the Pac-12 until their probation is lifted.
Utah wants to kick in the door of their new conference and show why it has had so much success in the past. There are two coaches on the Utes coaching staff that coached at USC, offensive coordinator Norm Chow and offensive line coach Tim Davis. The LA Times talks about the familiarity that USC has with their former coaches. Chow will specifically be looking to get a win having been directly replaced by current USC head coach Lane Kiffin.
But, according to Bob Clark in the Register- Guard, this game could be almost meaningless. Most coaches will say that the number one goal is to win the conference. If that is the true goal, this game has no relation to it. The Trojans can't win the conference for another season. The Utes can still win the division if they win out after a loss.
This is a game for both teams to take a step forward. Both defenses are strong and both offenses had issues in the second half last week. Pat Forde of ESPN has his prediction of a USC victory. Ultimately it will come down to who can overcome their last two quarters and return to form faster than the other.