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Thursday Night (College) Football: USC at Utah

Matt Barkley has been overtaken in the Heisman race. Lane Kiffin may soon be eclipsed by Jim L. Mora as the least sufferable college football coach in Los Angeles, though he won’t go down without a fight. Both must help this team regroup after a disappointing start. The Trojans won’t finish the business they intended in 2012, though a triumphant Rose Bowl appearance would not be a terrible consolation prize.

Key Matchup: Utah’s defensive line vs. USC’s offensive line. The Utes have a strong front led by Star Lotulelei (who should be making waves next April). That group stuffs the run and gets to the quarterback. Like Stanford, they could be a serious matchup problem for a thin Trojans line. USC’s experienced center Khaled Holmes is pivotal for USC’s protection up front. He missed the Stanford game. He tweaked the same injury against Cal. If he cannot play (and play well) today, the Trojans could be in real trouble.

Not Helping Themselves. USC ranks just 111th in the country in third-down conversion percentage, converting just 15/50.

Skewed Stat? Utah ranks 121st in the country in yards per play offense, averaging just 4.37. One wonders how much of that is bad offense and how much of that was facing three top ten yards per play defenses thus far: BYU, Arizona State and Utah State.

Shady Character: Salt Lake City police might want to be on the lookout for this fellow. Looks suspicious.

For Recreational Purposes: We made our weekly picks here. Utah (+14)

 

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