LOS ANGELES — Utah’s dramatic 28-27 loss at USC may prove pivotal when it comes to who ends up winning the Pac-12 South title. The Trojans are now in the driver’s seat — at least head-to-head with the Utes — following Saturday’s victory at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum. They hold the tiebreaker should both teams end up in first place at season’s end.
That was the case in 2015 when a 42-24 victory in Los Angeles wound up sending USC instead of Utah to the Pac-12 Championship Game.
“Our kids found a way to win a critical game for us,” said USC coach Clay Helton.
The Trojans and Utes were tabbed as the top two teams in the Pac-12 South in the conference’s annual preseason poll.
A look at remaining conference games:
USC (6-1, 4-1) — Home (2): Arizona, UCLA. Away (2): Arizona State, Colorado.
UTAH (4-2, 1-2) — Home (4): Arizona State, UCLA, Washington State, Colorado. Away (2): Oregon, Washington.
HE DID IT AGAIN: Too bad USC linebacker Cameron Smith isn’t a Utah receiver. The junior has four career interceptions with the Trojans, all against the Utes. The latest addition came in the first quarter when Smith picked off Troy Williams on the USC 14-yard line.
HORSE SENSE: USC’s famed white horse Traveler is in its ninth incarnation this fall. The tradition of having a Trojan warrior gallop into the stadium is 56 years old. There may not be a 57th. That’s because the iconic horse has come under fire amid the national discussion on racism. Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee had a horse named Traveller — with two l’s. A version of Traveler has appeared in numerous movies.
SUDDEN SAM: The Trojans can credit Utah for triggering the arrival of quarterback Sam Darnold. In last year’s game at Rice-Eccles Stadium, Darnold made his first start, passing for 253 yards and completing 69 percent of his passes. With him under center, the Trojans won 13 straight games over two seasons.
EXTRA POINTS: It was 84 degrees and a bit hazy when the game kicked off. Scouts from the NFL’s New York Jets, Oakland Raiders and San Francisco 49ers were credentialed for the game, as were representatives from the CFL’s Saskatchewan Roughriders and the NFLPA’s Collegiate Bowl. Dallas Cowboys offensive tackle Tyron Smith, a four-time Pro Bowler, led the Trojans onto the field.
Contributing: Brad Rock