It is Rivalry Week across college football, but not for USC. Last week’s game against rival UCLA was one to forget, and a season to forget will be one step closer to coming to an end Saturday against Brigham Young.
Last week’s 62-33 loss at the hands of the Bruins was yet another black mark on the season. The only win in the last five games for the Trojans came against lowly Arizona, and even that victory was a struggle. A loss here would eliminate USC from making a bowl game. At 4-6, the Trojans need to win both of its last two games to become bowl eligible.
With the Trojans listed as a 6.5-point underdog at home, an upset will be needed to have any hope.
No. 13 Brigham Young (-6.5, 64) at USC, 7:30 p.m. PST, ESPN
Not enough has been said about the job coach Kalani Sitake is doing in Provo. BYU is 21-3 over the last two seasons, the most wins in a two-year span since 2008-09. A win herewould give BYU back-to-back 11-win seasons for the first time since 2006-07. The Cougars are already 4-0 against the Pac-12 this season.
This line may catch some people by surprise. BYU has six more wins than USC and ranks 10th nationally in yards per play on offense. The Cougars have had some defensive issues, allowing 5.7 yards per play, but that is still far better than the 6.5 yards per play allowed by the Trojans defense. This line coming in below a touchdown does seem fishy.
BYU’s games against the Pac-12 were close. The Cougars struggled with Arizona in a season-opening 24-16 win. They beat Utah by nine, Arizona State by 10 and Washington State by two. Of course, a win is a win and USC only has three wins against Pac-12 opponents.
The defense was beyond awful against UCLA, but at least Jaxson Dart showed some promise at quarterback in place of Kedon Slovis. He threw for 325 yards and a touchdown, though he was just 27-of-47 with two interceptions. Receiver Gary Bryant Jr. had the big game that everybody had been looking for since Drake London went down, but nobody else stepped up.
It’s fair to wonder how invested the Trojans are in the rest of the season, especially with one rivalry gone and another quasi-rivalry game on deck. Everything will change with a new head coach, and making a lower-tier bowl game isn’t that big of a draw. BYU is very physical at the point of attack and the running game should have a big day against a defense that just allowed 260 yards to UCLA.
Pick: BYU -6.5
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This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.