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Three Storylines That Could Determine Winner Of BYU/USC Game

Nov 27, 2021, 12:40 AM
BYU Football - Jaren Hall...
STATESBORO, GA - NOVEMBER 20: Jaren Hall #3 of the Brigham Young Cougars looks to throw during the fourth quarter at Allen E. Paulson Stadium on November 20, 2021 in Statesboro, Georgia. BYU defeated Georgia Southern 34-17. (Photo by Corey Perrine/Getty Images)
(Photo by Corey Perrine/Getty Images)

LOS ANGELES – The fourth game all-time between BYU/USC on the football field takes place Saturday, November 27, 2021. BYU comes into the game ranked No. 13 in the latest College Football Playoff rankings.

With a win, Kalani Sitake’s squad would secure a 10-win regular season and a perfect 5-0 record against Pac-12 teams this season. USC enters the game at 4-6, searching for motivation to finish a disappointing season.

BYU/USC Storylines

The kickoff for Saturday’s game is 8:30 p.m. (MT) on ESPN. A late-night kickoff to close out the regular season for the Cougars.

Here are three storylines that could determine the winner of BYU/USC.

#1 The urgency from USC

Since week two of the season, USC has been operating with an interim head coach in Donte Williams. Williams has done a good job in a difficult situation, but the Trojans have fallen completely short of any reasonable expectations placed on them this season.

The once-mighty Trojans are 4-6 and they need to win their final two games to qualify for a bowl game. Do they want to reach the post-season, though? Or are they going to roll over to No. 13 BYU, who should be motivated as they have an outside shot at a New Year’s Six bowl still at stake?

Earlier this week, after the Trojans’ full padded practice after a blowout loss to rival UCLA, head coach Donte Williams wasn’t pleased with the bounceback effort from his team.

“The way that we started practice today, we definitely didn’t bounce back. It was definitely slow. So I had to get on a couple of guys and fire guys back up. And that’s why in practice, I had to bring people up to make sure we understand, the way we started practice is not our standard. That was terrible,” said Williams after USC’s Tuesday practice. “You can’t just show up for a football game and think anything is going to go your particular way. So the sense of urgency definitely has to pick up.”

Williams later noted in the quote that he did see the urgency pick up and added that the urgency couldn’t come from the coaching staff.

Suppose USC arrives at the Coliseum on Saturday night with no urgency. In that case, that could result in a blowout victory for BYU to put an emphatic exclamation mark on their regular season. While also making a solid case to be included in the New Year’s Six.

#2 QB Battle 

This BYU/USC game features an intriguing quarterback battle with a pair of young signal-callers in BYU’s Jaren Hall and USC’s Jaxson Dart.

Dart, a true freshman from Corner Canyon High School in Utah, has been elevated to QB1 as Kedon Slovis continues to deal with a lower leg injury. The former four-star Gatorade Player of the Year athlete received his first scholarship offer from BYU when he was initially at Roy High School. He leads a USC offense that is 26th nationally in total offense at 446 yards per game.

This year, Jaren Hall has had an excellent season, passing for 2,307 yards with an impressive 18-3 TD-INT ratio.

Dart, a former Utah Utes fan growing up, will have the motivation to want to defeat BYU. But Jaren Hall has the better team this season. But, of course, it also doesn’t hurt for Hall that the Trojans have the 112th rated pass efficiency defense in the nation.

#3 Miscues

USC is one of the most penalized teams in all of college football. The Trojans enter today’s game averaging 79 yards per game through the yellow laundry. That puts them at 128th nationally. By comparison, BYU is 30th nationally in the fewest penalty yards.

This game has the makings of being a high-scoring matchup. But some miscues or penalties could derail a drive or two and ultimately be a giant momentum swing in the game.

No. 13 BYU at USC

Kickoff: 8:30 p.m. (MT)

TV: ESPN

Radio: KSL NewsRadio (102.7 FM, 1160 AM)

Mitch Harper is a BYU Insider for KSLsports.com and host of the Cougar Tracks Podcast (SUBSCRIBE) and Cougar Sports Saturday (Saturday from 12–3 p.m.) on KSL Newsradio. Follow him on Twitter: @Mitch_Harper.

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Three Storylines That Could Determine Winner Of BYU/USC Game