KSL UNRIVALED

Will Utah Win The Pac-12 South Again? USC Predicted To Come Out On Top

May 7, 2020, 3:39 PM | Updated: Jun 3, 2020, 1:32 pm
pac 12 south predictions...
Wide receiver Michael Pittman Jr. #6 of the USC Trojans makes a catch against the Utah Utes at Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum on September 20, 2019 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Meg Oliphant/Getty Images)
(Photo by Meg Oliphant/Getty Images)

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – There is no denying that the 2020 University of Utah football team is replacing a lot of talent after seven players got drafted.

This could be one of the toughest coaching years for Kyle Whittingham and his staff.

Not only was there no spring ball and who knows about getting those practices back, but the Utes have to find a new quarterback and running back to replace Tyler Huntley and Zack Moss.

The defense earned the benefit of the doubt but the offense is not quite there, except for maybe the running back position which has been consistently good.

Where Does Utah Fit In Down South?

CBS Sports put out its early Pac-12 projections and it shouldn’t shock anyone that USC is predicted to win the title. If the Trojans do make it to the Pac-12 title game it will be just their third time since the league expanded to 12 teams.

The Utes come in third in this poll, behind Arizona State, and that is something KSL Sports’ Scott Mitchell disagreed with, plus he names a sleeper team in the South.

“My top three are Arizona State, Utah, and USC,” Mitchell said. “A surprise team could be UCLA in the South. They had young players, still had young players last year and now the third year they should not young players. I think the whole karma at UCLA is one where people don’t care about football and it is not important. They are kind of that sleeping giant and could be a top-10 program all the time.”

The analysis from CBS Sports mentions coaching longevity and the roster overhaul, plus the 2020 year could be a bridge year to 2021. Mitchell compared what the Utes are now to what Chris Petersen had going with the Washington Huskies.

“It is like Washington where they reached a level with Chris Petersen where they won a lot of games and were in the conversation or playing for a conference championship when it was a transition year,” Mitchell said. “If everything goes right for Utah – the South isn’t really that strong – Cal will be a tough game on the road but they don’t have a lot of tough road games from the North.

“It is about that time that Utah has been in the conference long enough, the players they have are talented but are not experienced. They could find ways to win until they gain some experience and it could be a year where they contend for a title, but on the other side it could be that third place is a good place for them.”

How Is USC Projected At 10 Wins, Again?

USC is that team that will get the benefit of the doubt despite the past few years of inconsistency. The lack of winning big finally caught up to Trojans recruiting – having a down year by finishing 10th in the Pac-12 South this past year.

Despite not winning many games and having a bad recruiting class, CBS Sports predicts USC to win South and that baffles Mitchell.

“I don’t, quite frankly. I would like to say the quarterback is coming back, but you can never bet against them because they are USC. If you are from California that is where you want to go, so they are always going to get that good person,” Mitchell said. “They have the luxury of going out of state to steal recruits from other states. You get really good players. It is not hard, even if you are stepping all over yourself you stumble into talent.”

Basically, the Trojans get the benefit of the doubt, and even though the team is not at a College Football Playoff level they get good talent and that is why publications each year will put USC at the top.

The Utes have slowly gotten closer to the Trojans by winning the past games three in Salt Lake. The 2020 game is at Rice-Eccles so that bodes well for Utah to knock off USC again. Doing that should put Utah in the driver’s seat for a third-straight South title.

The Pac-12 South will be one of the more interesting races next year as there is no clear cut favorite but there is a clear upper tier with the Utes, Sun Devils, and Trojans.

Tune into KSL’s Unrivaled every Monday through Friday, 7-9 p.m., or download the KSL NewsRadio app to subscribe to the podcast. 

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