It’s a role reversal for USC and Utah heading into game at Coliseum
It’s a game that was expected to provide a midseason measuring point for a spot in the College Football Playoff.
Only the focus was supposed to be on USC, which needed to be wary of Utah.
Instead, it’s the opposite.
Third-ranked and undefeated Utah will arrive at the Coliseum on Saturday hoping to remain on track for a playoff berth.
Utah, under Coach Kyle Whittingham, improved to 6-0 overall and 3-0 in the Pac-12 Conference by defeating Arizona State, 34-18, last Saturday. The Utes are the only team in the Pac-12 South without a loss.
“We couldn’t ask for a better spot moving into Week Seven,” Whittingham told reporters after the Arizona State game.
USC is 3-3 after a 41-31 loss to Notre Dame. The Trojans are 1-2 in the Pac-12. They defeated Arizona State in their only South Division game.
Utah features several key players who helped the Utes defeat the Trojans, 24-21, last season at Salt Lake City.
Quarterback Travis Wilson, from San Clemente, has completed 68% of his passes, seven for touchdowns, with three interceptions.
Running back Devontae Booker ranks 10th nationally in rushing. He has averaged 130.5 yards per game and scored eight touchdowns. He also leads the Utes with 23 receptions.
Linebackers Gionni Paul and Jared Norris lead the defense.
USC, the preseason favorite to win the Pac-12 South, has lost its last two games and is in danger of losing three in a row for the first time since 2012.
Trojans players said they still have a lot to play for.
“We still have the South to win,” receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster said. “If you win the South you get to play for the Pac-12 championship.”
Said tailback Tre Madden: “We definitely still have a chance, and the Pac-12 South is wide open.”
Carroll not interested
Pete Carroll, who left USC to coach the Seattle Seahawks, shot down speculation that he might be interested in returning to coach the Trojans.
Seattlepi.com reported that when Carroll was asked if he was flattered by his name being mentioned in rumors, he said, “I would say this. I love USC. It’s a great place. … but that’s not happening, so we’re in good shape here.”
For the second consecutive year, USC’s athletic program surpassed $100 million in revenue, according to a report that must be filed annually with the U.S. Department of Education as part of Title IX compliance.
USC reported total expenses and revenue of $105.9 million for the period covering July 1, 2014, to June 30, 2015. That is a slight decrease from $106.5 million the previous year.
Steve Lopes, USC’s chief operating officer, said the dip was caused in part because USC played only six home football games rather than seven.
USC’s football expenses increased by about $300,000 to $30.6 million. Revenue was $45.9 million, an increase of about $1 million.
Back on his feet
Tailback Justin Davis rushed for 52 yards in seven carries and caught three passes for 23 yards against Notre Dame. And he left the stadium without the aid of crutches.
Two years ago, Davis suffered a broken ankle at Notre Dame Stadium and was carried up the ramp to the locker room by teammates.
“You try not to think about it, but it was in the back of my head,” he said. “So I’m thankful I came out walking. ... Just to go out and help my team, and not sit on the bench hurt, meant a lot to me.”
Davis has rushed for 227 yards and two touchdowns in 35 carries.
USC’s Oct. 31 game at California will kick off at 12:30 p.m. and be telecast by Fox or Fox Sports 1.
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