We have seen the future of the USC Trojans, and it is not encouraging.
The Trojans lost to Utah, as they are wont to do, on Saturday night. Utah’s 34-32 victory over the Trojans in the Coliseum was its fourth straight win in the series and the third straight since Lincoln Riley assumed control of Troy. A Utah team that had struggled offensively all season long suddenly found its offense Saturday night.
The Utes hadn’t rushed for more than 231 yards in a game all season, and that was against Weber State. Saturday, they rushed for 247. Of course, considering the team has been without its starting QB, Cam Rising, all season long, running the ball had been its strength. That’s why it hadn’t thrown for more than 193 yards in a game (again, Weber State) before throwing for 235 against the Trojans. Starting strong safety, Sione Vaki became an offensive powerhouse against the Trojans defense, catching five passes for 149 yards (no other Ute had more than 70 yards receiving in any game before Saturday night) and rushed for 68 yards, too. Pig farmer Bryson Barnes outplayed Heisman winner Caleb Williams throw for throw, finishing with 235 yards passing and three touchdowns while rushing for 57 and another score.
It was the kind of game that left me confident Utah would be just fine and continue being Utah when it leaves for the Big 12 next year. But USC? USC’s in a world of trouble, and I’m not sure anybody around the program realizes it yet.
There’s been a sense that when the four Pac-12 schools leaving for the Big Ten enter the conference, they will shake things up and bring more firepower to a league that lacks some. It’s a theory gaining support from more people as the Big Ten’s West Division continues having the worst season of its existence.