After knocking off Colorado 56-28 this past Saturday, USC has positioned themselves to make it to the PAC-12 championship game, as they are in first place in the south division of the conference. They have already knocked off Stanford, and Oregon is not on their schedule for a second consecutive season, so running the table the rest of the way in their conference schedule is very possible.
USC’s offense is clicking on all cylinders. Their passing game made headlines after the Colorado win, as quarterback Cody Kessler set the school record with seven touchdown passes in a single game. Wide receiver Nelson Agholor caught three of those touchdown passes, and finished the game with six receptions for 128 yards. JuJu Smith, a Long Beach Poly graduate, caught four passes for 104 yards and one touchdown.
As good as their passing game has been, their running game plays as much of a role in their success. Against Colorado, USC rushed for 233 yards on 31 carries (excluding loss yardage from Kessler being sacked twice). Javorius Allen ran for 128 yards and a touchdown on 15 carries, and Justin Davis added 97 yards on 11 carries.
USC puts an emphasis on their running game because it opens up the passing game.
“When you are a team that believes in running the football, you have to make defenses pay for loading the box, you have to have the ability to throw the ball down the field. When you have those two things going for you, then life is good,” said USC head coach Steve Sarkisian.
On the season Allen has rushed for 909 yards and eight touchdowns.
USC has moved up to No. 20 in the nation, and on Saturday will travel to No. 19 Utah. The winner of that game could be in the driver’s seat to winning the PAC-12 South, as both teams currently only have one conference loss.
But Utah has a much tougher road after this week, which makes this game more important for them to win. They have No. 14 Arizona St., No. 6 Oregon, Stanford, and No. 15 Arizona remaining on their conference schedule, while the only good conference team remaining on USC’s schedule after this week is No. 25 UCLA.
USC could put Utah in their rearview mirror with a win this Saturday.