Game location: LA Memorial Coliseum- Los Angeles, CA
Game time/channel: 10:30pm ET/ESPN
Spread: -6.5 (BYU)
Head coach: Donte Williams (interim)
BYU goes from playing Clay Helton’s new team, Georgia Southern, to the program that fired him, USC. The Trojans are still hunting for their next head coach, likely waiting for more big names to be available after the season.
Donte Williams was previously the defensive pass game coordinator and cornerbacks coach before being named the interim head coach earlier this year.
Before his time at USC, he was the cornerbacks coach at Oregon from 2018-2019.
2021 Season Thus Far
There is no other way to describe USC’s season than turbulent. Helton was dismissed after losing to Stanford in Week 2.
The Trojans sit at 4-6, barely clinging to bowl hopes. That might be the sole motivation they have left to beat BYU. They need to beat the Cougars and then Cal to become bowl eligible.
Their most recent game was a loss to their most bitter rival, UCLA. The Trojans allowed 62 points to the Bruins including 260 rushing yards. Overall, this has been a very disappointing season for a program with so much prestige and resources.
2021 Team Rankings
Scoring offense: 58th
Total offense: 28th
Passing yards: 14th
Rushing yards: 88th
Scoring defense: 103rd
Total defense: 96th
Pass yards allowed: 91st
Rush yards allowed: 96th
Other notable stat- USC is 30th in red zone defense
Although the numbers suggest USC’s defense is porous, their red zone defense has not only been respectable, but even above average. BYU will need to stay vigilant and creative in the red zone in order to finish with touchdowns and not settle for field goal attempts.
Biggest Strength- Pass offense
The Corner Canyton High School alum Jaxson Dart is currently leading the offense behind center. The Trojans have been switching between him and Kedon Slovis. Dart has been the hot hand recently. He plays the role of point guard, distributing the ball in their air-raid attack to various playmakers.
Biggest Weakness- Run defense
Most teams have been able to run on USC with ease. Before UCLA put up 260 yards, the Trojans surrendered 291 yards on the ground to Arizona State.
Best Player- Drake Jackson, EDGE
The true best player for the Trojans is out for the year with an injury and that is receiver Drake London. He had 1,084 receiving yards in eight games before going down.
The best healthy player currently is edge rusher Drake Jackson. He leads the team with five sacks. He was named 2nd Team All-PAC-12 last year. He will likely be an NFL draft pick in the first three rounds. BYUs offensive line will need to account for where he is at all times.
How BYU Can Win
With how poor USC has been on defense, the formula for a BYU win is to control the game while on offense. Tyler Allgeier is the perfect weapon against the 96th-ranked run defense. With his 1,303 yards and 18 touchdowns, he is one of the most prolific running backs in the country. The Cougars would do well to ride him early and often.
USC is also 100th in giveaways, meaning they are one of the most generous teams in the country when it comes to their offense turning the ball over. BYU’s defense should be looking out to take advantage and cause a turnover or two. USC is without their best weapon in Drake Jackson. As long as BYU does not make mental mistakes, they should be able to take advantage of a beaten-down Trojan team.