LOS ANGELES-The Big, Bad Wolf just got taken down by the Three Little Pigs. Utah came riding into the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum on Saturday to face USC as the Big, Bad Wolf of the Pac-12 Conference with its No. 3 ranking.
They had taken down Michigan, beat the crap out of Oregon, and had just come off of a game in which the Utes intercepted Cal’s Heisman Trophy contending quarterback Jarden Goff five times in a close win.
Utah was kicking butt and taking names. The Trojans came into the contest still licking their wounds from a tough loss at Notre Dame and losing their head coach. They were on a roll in a bad sort of way, losing their last two games before going up against the mighty Utes.
Then the Three Little Pigs showed up in a big way for the Trojans as USC handed Utah a thorough and complete butt-kicking with a 42-24 upset win. Oh, by the way, those Three Little Pigs, would come in the form of the number of the three interceptions that USC linebacker Cameron Smith recorded against Utah, including a 54-yard pick six for a touchdown during the Trojans’ 28-point outburst in the first half.
No. 3 also has to do with three Trojans who stamped their names on the game. JuJu Smith Schuster (8 catches, 143 yards and one touchdown), Justin Davis (19 rushes, 66 yards and one touchdown) and Adoree’ Jackson (6 receptions, 37 yards) accounted for 248 of the Trojans’ 380 yards in total offense.
The beat down USC put on Utah makes you wonder was the Utes overrated as the No. 3 team in the country or is that we finally saw the USC team that was picked to win the Pac-12 Conference during the preseason? It was a combination of both worlds. The Utes are not that good. The Trojans, obviously, are a lot better football squad than their three-loss record indicate.
The way they played Saturday at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum, the Trojans looked like world beaters. They beat the Utes on defense. They hit Utah in the mouth on offense. They owned the special teams category. This was an all-around takedown of the Utes. The beating was so complete that you could see the residue of the unexpected whooping on the Utes’ cheerleaders.
In the meantime, the Trojans did away with their funky, two-game losing streak at home in convincing fashion. The distraction of losing their head coach didn’t mean a thing on Saturday for the Trojans. Like they did on the road against Arizona State earlier this season, USC put it all together to resemble the team that made the cover of Sports Illustrated.
In so many words, they played USC-brand of football. The Trojans got physical. They smashed people. They ran by defenders. They outsmarted the Utes. The game-planning on both sides of the ball kept Utah in a fog all game long. Utah didn’t have a clue what was coming and how it was coming.
This win just might be the one that gets the Trojans over the hump and get them to get back on the right track. Prior to beating Utah, things were looking pretty desperate for the Trojans, already sacked with two Pac-12 Conference South defeats. They can’t afford a third one conference loss and expect to be in the conversation of a division win and have a chance to play in the Pac-12 Conference title game.
Against the Utes, the Trojans played with desperation and fury. They dictated the tempo and controlled the line of scrimmage on both sides of the ball. It was about the most complete game as a unit they’ve played all season. What the Trojans need to now is to carry it forward against Cal, Arizona, Oregon, Colorado and UCLA.
As for Utah, well, they look pretty pedestrian against the Trojans. They looked timid on offense and played passively on defense. This was clearly not the same team that put up 62 points against the Ducks earlier this season. The Trojans had some say about that. If USC play the way they did against the Utes the rest of the way, the rest of the Pac-12 might be in a little trouble.