Just like last week when Utah traveled to UCLA, the No. 20 Utes find themselves playing in a game critical to the Pac-12 race when they host No. 7 USC on Saturday.
Utah is hopeful for a different result this time around — the Bruins knocked off the Utes 42-32 last week.
Now, no. 7 USC comes to town with No. 20 Utah’s hopes of repeating as Pac-12 champion — and earning a spot in a New Year’s Six game — hang in the balance.
What are national experts predicting for the game? What about BYU’s game against Arkansas, and Utah State’s contest at Colorado State?
Here’s a look at how those outside the state see these games playing out.
What national experts are predicting for No. 7 USC at No. 20 Utah in Week 7
ESPN’s Scott Van Pelt likes the Utes to bounce back with a win.
“We’re on the Utes in a massive spot against USC,” Van Pelt wrote. “Lincoln Riley and the Trojans have pulled a real quick U-turn and have ‘SC in the top 10. This is the Trojans toughest road test, by a lot, this season. Rice Eccles at night is a spooky place for road teams.”
ESPN’s Seth Winder has listed the game as one of Week 7’s key games to the College Football Playoff race, mainly for the unbeaten Trojans’ likelihood of making the playoffs, although he doesn’t rule Utah out of the running, even with two losses.
“Utah itself is not totally out of the running here, despite two losses on his résumé already. If the Utes win out, they would have a 10% shot at the playoffs as a two-loss champ,” Winder wrote.
Six USA Today experts picked who they believe will win games involving Top 25 teams, and there’s not a consensus on the Utah-USC game, although it’s clear — several like Utah winning in Salt Lake City.
- Scooby Axon: Utah.
- Jace Evans: USC
- Paul Myerberg: Utah
- Eric Smith: Utah
- Eddie Timanus: Utah
- Dan Wolken: USC
Myerberg called Utah beating USC his bold prediction for the week.
“Utah stomps on Southern California to create a real logjam at the top of the Pac-12. USC has remained unbeaten through the start of conference play but could be in for a long night in Salt Lake City as the Utes try to rally from a 4-2 start and factor into the New Year’s Six race,” Myerberg wrote.
“Utah had been outstanding defending the pass before a letdown last week against UCLA, while Caleb Williams and the Trojans have been hit or miss through the air for the better part of a month. Look for the Utes to establish a running game and wear down a USC defense that has faced more than 62 plays in a game just once this season.”
Three Athlon Sports experts aren’t unanimous on who will win between Utah and USC.
- Steven Lassan: USC
- Mark Ross: USC
- Ben Weinrib: Utah
College Football News
CFN’s Pete Fiutak believes Utah has what it takes to slow down USC enough to earn a win.
“USC will be great. The offense will come up with its share of big plays, (Caleb) Williams will be fantastic, and there will be times when it all works. And then it’ll be undone by run defense that will get steamrolled over in key moments,” Fiutak wrote.
“Neither team will get the turnovers they’re hoping for and relying on. It’ll come down to control, and the team that’s the best in the Pac-12 in time of possession will have it.
“The Ute offense will keep (Williams) and his amazing weapons on the sidelines way too often.”
- Prediction Utah 30, USC 27
Sporting News’ Bill Bender is calling for a tight game, with the Trojans staying unbeaten.
“This has been an even series in the College Football Playoff era, with each team winning four games. It’s a desperate spot for the Utes at home, but if they had trouble with the chunk play against UCLA, then what are they going to do here?” Bender wrote.
“… Lincoln Riley makes a statement with his first victory against a ranked Pac-12 team on the road.”
- Prediction: USC 31, Utah 28
Bleacher Report’s Max Escarpio predicts it will be a high-scoring game, with the Trojans escaping with the road win.
“Utah has the ability to make this a scoring showcase, and hopefully that’ll come to fruition. The Utes are averaging just over 40 points on the year, and the Trojans are rarely a team that sleeps on the offensive end,” Escarpio wrote.
“The dynamic safety duo of RJ Hubert and Cole Bishop highlights the Utah defense, and linebacker Eric Gentry holds it down for USC.”
- Prediction: USC 37, Utah 31
What national experts are predicting for Arkansas at BYU in Week 7
College Football News
CFN’s Pete Fiutak gives the edge to BYU.
“Arkansas is the better team with the better talent, but BYU’s lines, run defense, and (Jaren) Hall will be far sharper and more effective than they all were last week,” Fiutak wrote.
“It’ll be close throughout, but BYU will take over the fourth quarter with third down conversion after third down conversion to grind out the final drive for the win.”
- Prediction: BYU 26, Arkansas 24
Athlon Sports’ three-man panel favors the Razorbacks.
- Steven Lassan: Arkansas
- Mark Ross: BYU
- Ben Weinrib: Arkansas
What national experts are predicting for Utah State at Colorado State in Week 7
College Football News
CFN’s Pete Fiutak sees Utah State building a two-game winning streak.
“In an awful year for the Mountain West, just about every game is winnable. The loser’s bowl hopes are all but gone, and the winner will be on a two-game winning streak with some real, live momentum,” Fiutak wrote.
“Both teams will turn it over too much, and neither defense will be anything special. It’s not going to be pretty, but Utah State will take it — the passing game will be a little better than anything the Rams can do.”
- Prediction: Utah State 30, Colorado State 17
Athlon Sports’ three experts give Utah State the edge, although it’s not a consensus.
- Steven Lassan: Utah State
- Mark Ross: Colorado State
- Ben Weinrib: Utah State