The USC Trojans and the Utah Utes have been two of the most dominant teams in the Pac-12 conference for decades. Both programs have a rich history of success. With USC winning 11 national championships and Utah being one of only six teams to have gone undefeated in a season. The rivalry between these two schools has been intense, with each team fighting for bragging rights and conference titles. However, recent years have seen a shift in the balance of power, as Utah has emerged as a formidable opponent for USC. This article will explore the history of this rivalry, the current state of both programs and what fans can expect in the future.
The History of USC vs Utah
Early Years (1915-1999)
The rivalry between USC and Utah began in 1915 when they first faced off on the football field. At the time, USC was a powerhouse in college football, while Utah was still finding its footing. The Trojans dominated the early years of the rivalry, winning 17 out of the first 18 games. However, in 1948, Utah pulled off a major upset, defeating USC for the first time in 33 years. This sparked a resurgence for the Utes, who went on to win five of the next six meetings.
In the 1970s, both USC and Utah joined the newly formed Pacific-8 Conference (now known as the Pac-12). This led to more frequent matchups between the two teams, with USC maintaining their dominance. However, in 1991, Utah pulled off yet another upset, defeating the Trojans 31-27 in a thrilling game. From then on, the rivalry became more evenly matched, with both teams trading wins over the next decade.
Rise of the Utes (2000-present)
The turn of the century saw a significant shift in the rivalry, as Utah became a force to be reckoned with. In 2001, the Utes joined the Mountain West Conference and went on to have one of the most successful runs in program history. From 2003 to 2008, they won six straight bowl games and finished in the top 25 five times. This success was largely due to their dominant defense, led by future NFL players such as Eric Weddle and Paul Kruger.
In the meantime, USC was dominating the Pac-10 and establishing itself as one of the top programs in the country. However, in 2010, the Trojans were hit with major sanctions for NCAA violations, which severely impacted the program. This opened the door for Utah to become the new powerhouse in the Pac-12 South division. Since joining the conference in 2011, the Utes have consistently been one of the top teams, winning the division twice and finishing in the top 25 four times.
Current State of the Rivalry
Recent Meetings (2015-2020)
Since 2015, USC and Utah have met six times, with the Trojans holding a slight edge with a record of 4-2. During this span, both teams have been evenly matched, with each game being decided by an average margin of just six points. The intensity of the rivalry has also increased, with several close and controversial games.
The most memorable meeting between these two teams was in 2017 when USC pulled off a come-from-behind victory with a game-winning field goal in the final seconds. The following year, Utah got revenge with a 41-28 upset over the then-ranked No. 14 Trojans. In 2019, USC once again came out on top, winning 30-23 in a tight contest.
When comparing USC and Utah, it is clear that both teams have different strengths and weaknesses. USC has a storied history of success and consistently produces top NFL talent. However, they have struggled in recent years due to sanctions and coaching changes. On the other hand, Utah may not have the same level of prestige as USC, but they have been more consistent and have a stronger overall team.
In terms of recruiting, USC has consistently ranked in the top 25, while Utah tends to fall outside of the top 30. However, the Utes have had an impressive track record of developing players and producing NFL prospects. In terms of coaching, both teams have experienced change in recent years, with USC hiring former Texas Tech head coach Kliff Kingsbury in 2019 and Utah promoting their long-time defensive coordinator Kyle Whittingham to head coach in 2020.
Key Players and Matchups to Watch
- Kedon Slovis (QB): After an impressive freshman season in 2019, Slovis is poised to lead the Trojans to a successful 2021 campaign.
- Drake London (WR): With star receiver Amon-Ra St. Brown now in the NFL, London will be expected to step up and become the go-to target for Slovis.
- Korey Foreman (DE): The No. 1 recruit in the 2021 class, Foreman is expected to make an immediate impact on USC’s defense.
- Charlie Brewer (QB): A transfer from Baylor, Brewer brings experience and leadership to the Utes’ offense.
- Devin Lloyd (LB): One of the top linebackers in the country. Lloyd is a tackling machine and a key leader on Utah’s defense.
- Nick Ford (OL): As one of only two returning starters on Utah’s offensive line, Ford will play a crucial role in protecting Brewer and opening up holes for the running game.
What is the most memorable game between USC and Utah?
The most memorable game between USC and Utah was in 2017. When USC pulled off a thrilling comeback victory with a game-winning field goal in the final seconds.
How many times have USC and Utah met in bowl games?
USC and Utah have only met once in a bowl game, which was in the 2001 Las Vegas Bowl. Utah won 10-6.
Who has the better overall record between USC and Utah?
As of 2021, USC has a slight edge over Utah with a record of 12-7.
Has Utah ever beaten USC at the Coliseum?
Yes, Utah has beaten USC at the Coliseum twice, in 1916 and 1948.
What is the closest margin of victory between USC and Utah?
The closest margin of victory between USC and Utah was in 2015 when USC won by just three points.
The rivalry between USC and Utah has been one of the most intriguing and closely matched rivalries in the Pac-12 conference. Both programs have experienced their fair share of success and setbacks. Making every meeting between these two teams unpredictable and exciting. With both teams on the rise and new faces taking over at key positions. This rivalry is sure to continue to deliver intense and memorable matchups for years to come.