HELMETS OFF

USC ‘Arrogance’ Should Be Motivation For Utah

Oct 20, 2018, 7:20 PM | Updated: Oct 25, 2018, 10:30 am
View of the USC Trojans football helmets shown during their game against the Utah Utes at Rice-Eccl...
View of the USC Trojans football helmets shown during their game against the Utah Utes at Rice-Eccles Stadium on October 25, 2014 in Salt Lake City, Utah. (Photo by Gene Sweeney Jr/Getty Images )
(Photo by Gene Sweeney Jr/Getty Images )

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – One of the biggest factors in the Utes’ favor for their Week 8 matchup with USC may be the Trojan’s arrogance, according to former Utes quarterback and host of the Helmets Off podcast, Scott Mitchell.

To say that the upcoming game between the University of Utah and USC Trojans was going to be packed with explosive tension might be an extreme understatement.

Historically, the Utes haven’t performed well against USC, with the Trojans holding a 11-5 record in the series. Fortunately for the Utes, the tides have been heading in their favor, at least for Saturday.

The Utes will roll into the game at Rice Eccles Stadium after blasting the cleats off both Stanford and Arizona, scoring at least 40 points while maintaining a Top 20 defense, which was also second among Pac-12 teams.

Is USC Arrogant?

“This season has not disappointed, and the home schedule for the University of Utah has just been incredible this year,” Mitchell said on a recent episode of the Helmets Off podcast. “It gets probably as good as it could possibly get this weekend when Utah plays USC.”

He said the Trojan’s success over the years, including multiple National Championships. That success has helped them develop a strong, large fanbase.

“The reality is, if you’re a kid, or if you’re almost anyone growing up in California – in Southern California – the place you want to go is USC,” Mitchell said. “It’s the school that everyone wants to get into, everyone wants to be a part of. If you’re a football player, you’re going to go to USC – and they always have great football players.”

USC was 4-2 overall coming in to Salt Lake City, but Mitchell said that if you looked at this week’s press notes, you would think the team hadn’t lost all year.

“I was reading through the press notes this week, and I was struck by the tone of how the notes were put together,” Mitchell said.

Traditionally, each team’s press notes highlight key statistical figures for each team, as well as potential themes that can be presented throughout the course of the game. Mitchell said there may be some additional arrogance layered between the lines.

“The tone of all of this – and I don’t know if this is intended or not – is one of, ‘You should just be thankful that you actually get to play us and it should be quite an honor and a privilege for you, that we are actually going to come and visit your school, because we’re pretty much better than everyone else,'” Mitchell said.

Did USC Just Claim Rice Eccles Stadium?

He also noted the obvious ties related to Rice Eccles Stadium, specifically it being the location of the opening and closing ceremonies for the 2002 Winter Olympics.

Reading those game notes, Mitchell said it sounded like USC was claiming Utah’s home turf in the Wasatch Mountains as a home away from home for the California school.

“USC, of course, said, ‘It’s a fitting thing we come to this venue because we’ve had 50 Olympic athletes at USC,’” he said.

They go on to talk about how many players they have in the NFL and how many All-Americans, and Heisman Trophy winners, and how many National Championships. I believe it’s intended to be impressive – and it is impressive – but it came across to me as kind of, a little self-indulgent and very arrogant,” Mitchell said.

Adding Fuel To The Fire

The tone of the team’s game notes going into Salt Lake could easily leave someone, especially a Utahn, with the impression that we should feel thankful that USC has graced us with their presence, he said.

Mitchell believed those notes may lead to an added boost of confidence for the Utes.

“When I read all of this, it brought to my mind – I just get so annoyed when someone has this kind of attitude,” he said. “I can tell you as a player and when I coached and being a fan of a team, I love when the arrogant teams come to play against you, because you are just like, oh man, you want to beat them so bad.”

Mitchell remembered multiple games where an opposing team’s arrogance just added incentive and motivation to beat those schools.

“In 1988, Utah had not beat BYU in 10 years and we went out and beat BYU 57-28, and just annihilated them… Those victories are so much sweeter when your opponent thinks they’re going to show up and just roll you over. I love it,” he said.

Another game stood out for Mitchell in the NFL.

“I was playing for the Detroit Lions (in 1995) and we’re 0-3 and we’re playing on Monday Night Football against the defending World Champion San Francisco 49ers, with Steve Young and all that great team. No one gave us a chance, and the 49ers were just going to roll in there because they were the defending World Champions and we didn’t have a chance,” Mitchell said.

That just made the 27-24 victory that much better, he said.

“We didn’t have a shot, we were not going to win the game, and we end up beating them. I’m going to tell you, it was as sweet as any victory I have ever had in my life,” said Mitchell.

With the Pac-12 South division possibly at stake, the Utes may just head into the weekend as favorites, and potentially with a bit more confidence.​

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USC ‘Arrogance’ Should Be Motivation For Utah