There is no question that USC has had a disappointing start to the season. In fact, the Trojans are 8-6 in September since Clay Helton took over as Head Coach. But, they are also 7-1 in the month of October during his tenure. With that said, there are a still few different factors to consider when looking at the possibility of continuing the October hot streak.
USC Hopes To Turn Things Around In October
Lack of Experience
The Trojans lost Sam Darnold, Ronald Jones, and Deontay Burnett last year. That’s a significant amount of experience that they lost over this last off-season. USC is now starting true freshmen at quarterback and wide receiver on the offensive side, and at safety on the defensive side. That’s not even mentioning all of the freshmen they rotate in throughout the game on both sides of the ball. The bright side to playing so many freshmen is they’re all skillful players that have the ability to compete, and they also improve in each game they play.
Tough October Schedule
Even though USC had a much needed bye week in the first week of October, they play three teams that could all win the Pac-12 South. They’ll face off against Colorado, Utah, and Arizona State. The positive side to the tough schedule is that USC is in the Coliseum against Colorado and ASU. Here’s an analysis for each game.
USC vs. Colorado
Although Colorado is 5-0 this year, the Trojans have history on their side. Coming into this game, USC has an all-time record of 12-0 against the Buffaloes. But, that’s not the only streak that’s on the line. The Trojans are currently riding an 18-game winning streak at home, which is likely one of the reasons why USC is a seven-point favorite.
Another factor to consider is the schedule Colorado has had thus far. They beat Arizona State in a close game at home, but they barely got past a Nebraska team that has yet to win a game this year. For this reason, it’s hard to tell how good Colorado actually is this year.
The biggest challenge USC is going to have in this game is trying to stop Steven Montez and Laviska Shenault Jr. Montez is completing an impressive 75.2% of his passes and he has only thrown two interceptions. Shenault Jr. is one of the best receivers in the nation and he ranks third in the country in receiving yards with 708 yards. Colorado also likes to use Shenault Jr. as a runner. They’ll put him in the backfield as well as a wildcat-type formation which has yielded an additional four touchdowns for him. It might not be possible to stop these guys, but USC will need to find a way to at least slow them down.
USC vs. Utah
Since joining the Pac-12, Utah is just 2-5 against USC. But don’t let that record fool you. Those games have been competitive. Something that should worry USC fans is the Trojans haven’t beat Utah on the road since 2012. However, both of these losses came from touchdowns that Utah scored within the last 16 seconds of the game. Rice-Eccles Stadium is always a hostile environment. As a result, the Trojans usually struggle in Salt Lake City.
This year’s match-up should be an interesting game with both teams having an up and down year. Utah lost their first two games in Pac-12 play against Washington and Washington State but surprisingly blew out Stanford on the road. On the contrary, USC was embarrassed by Stanford and couldn’t even put the ball in the end zone. But, they came out on top against Washington State and Arizona. Between Utah’s consistent defensive play and USC’s youth getting better and better each game, fans can expect this game to go down to the wire once again.
USC vs Arizona State
Arizona State is another team that has had their ups and downs. In their second game of the season, they had a huge win against Michigan State. Nevertheless, they have three losses to San Diego State, Washington, and Colorado, with all of these losses being within seven points. Similar to Colorado, ASU also has a dynamic duo in Manny Wilkins and N’keal Harry. Harry is a matchup nightmare for opposing cornerbacks with his 6’4″ frame and it’s certain he’ll play on Sundays. Lucky for USC, they have Iman Marshall who has been playing exceptionally well during his Senior campaign.
Games like these are tough to predict since they’re all pretty similar. If USC can beat Colorado then they’ll also beat Utah and ASU. If they lose to Colorado they’ll also lose to Utah but will still beat Arizona State.
USC keeps their winning streak going and beats Colorado 24-21
Utah won’t be able to provide enough offense which leads to a Trojan victory, 21-17.
ASU has a bye week and then has to face a tough Stanford team whom they’ll probably lose to. They’ll have a lack of confidence heading into USC and for that reason, they’ll fall to the Trojans 31-17.