The USC Trojans play the second of their three straight home games to open their 2011 season on Saturday afternoon, hosting the Utah Utes at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum. It is the first-ever college football Pac-12 conference game. Here are the keys to the game for Matt Barkley, Marc Tyler and the Trojans, facing their former offensive coordinator Norm Chow, who returned home to the Utes.
The Running Game
USC only had 67 yards on the ground, and it wasn't for lack of trying. D.J. Morgan and Curtis McNeal combined for 103 yards on 24 carries, an average of 4.29 yards per rush. The Trojans will need a better performance on the ground against Utah, and though Morgan remains the starter at tailback, he figures to have help from Marc Tyler, now back from suspension, and Dillon Baxter, who looks for a bigger role this week.
An Old Friend Returns
Norm Chow, who was the offensive coordinator for the Trojans for four glorious seasons, is now in his first season with his alma mater. At 65, Chow feels he has a lot left in the tank, telling Scott M. Reid of the Orange County Register, "I feel healthy. I enjoy the challenge. I guess I’ll keep coaching as long as somebody keeps thinking I can help them."
Barkley To Woods
Matt Barkley set a USC record with 34 completions against Minnesota, and Robert Woods set a school record with his 17 catches for 177 yards and three scores. Utah had four first-time starters in their defensive backfield last week against Montana, so look for Barkley to take advantage.
Prediction: USC 28, Utah 17
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