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USC Head Coach Clay Helton Considers Utah ‘A Really Nice Rivalry Game’

Head coach Clay Helton of the USC Trojans looks on during the second half of the San Diego County Credit Union Holiday Bowl against the Iowa Hawkeyes at SDCCU Stadium on December 27, 2019 in San Diego, California. (Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – In recent years with many competitive games between USC and Utah on the gridiron, Trojans head coach considers the Utes a rival.

Since joining the Pac-12 in 2011, Utah is 3-6 against USC. Utah has never been able to beat the Trojans at the Coliseum in Los Angeles.

USC head coach Clay Helton caught up with the Crimson Corner to talk about the clashes with Utah and looked ahead to the 2020 college football season.

“It’s become a really nice rivalry game and a game that has been so important in deciding who ends up winning the south (division title),” Helton told KSL Sports. “Kyle (Whittingham) has done a wonderful job with the young men that he has brought in there. Kyle is known as a developer. He does a tremendous job and puts tremendous staff’s together. We always know going into that game it’s going to be a physical battle and both teams coming out, you can just tell that it takes something out of you. When you play that game whether it’s in Utah in Salt Lake City – which is a hard place to play – or whether it’s in the Coliseum, hold on to your hats and get your popcorn out because it’s going to be a helluva game.”

You can listen to the full interview with Clay Helton on the Crimson Corner podcast, below.

Utah’s History Against USC

Since joining the Pac-12, Utah hasn’t had a ton of success against USC. They lost the first three matchups against the Trojans since becoming conference foes. Utah’s first win over USC in Pac-12 play came in 2014 in thrilling fashion as Kaelin Clay caught the game-winning touchdown to top the Trojans. In 2015, Utah was a top-five ranked team in the country after winning their first six games but the unranked Trojans handed the Utes a 42-24 loss at the Coliseum.

On the return trip to Salt Lake City in 2016, Tim Patrick caught the game-winning touchdown to beat USC. Those two wins in 2014 and 2016 were two of the top 5 best wins for Utah since joining the conference.

In 2017, Utah lost to No. 13 USC in Los Angeles before the Utes handed the Trojans a 41-28 loss at Rice-Eccles Stadium in 2018.

Utah’s only loss in the regular season in 2019 was at USC when they fell to the Trojans, 30-23. Despite the loss, the Utes barely reached the Pac-12 Championship game for the second consecutive season, holding off the Trojans who had a 7-2 conference record. USC lost to Oregon at home and at Washington in Pac-12 play in 2019.

2020 Clash With USC

Although, USC had a disappointing end to their season with losing the Pac-12 South Division title and also their bowl game, the Trojans return a lot of talent. Quarterback Kedon Slovis is the guy moving forward for USC after J.T. Daniels transferred to Georgia. The reigning Pac-12 Freshman of the Year will be expected to improve as a signal caller in 2020. Helton said that most of the off-season work with Slovis has been mental due to only one spring football practice with the rest getting canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

USC returns 8 starters on offense including wide receiver tandem Tyler Vaughns and Amon-Ra St. Brown. On defense, the Trojans bring back 8 starters including Bingham star defensive tackle Jay Tufele.

USC and Utah will square off at Rice-Eccles Stadium on Friday, October 2.

Trevor Allen is a Utah Utes Insider for and host of the Crimson Corner podcast. Follow him on Twitter: @TrevorASportsYou can download and listen to the podcast, here.

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