When Utah first entered the Pac-12 Conference in 2011, the USC Trojans topped the list of games that most Ute fans were looking forward to watching on a yearly basis.
Though the Trojans were a bit removed from their 2002-2008 heyday, when the Pete Carroll-led program went to seven consecutive BCS bowls — winning six of them, including the 2005 BCS national championship game against Oklahoma — it was still a little surreal for Utah fans to see the Trojans in their first visit to Rice-Eccles Stadium in 2012.
Now, there’s not shock and awe when the Trojans come to town, and the series between the two teams has become competitive, with USC holding a 4-3 edge in the past seven games.
As Utah prepares to play USC Saturday at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum, where the Utes have been unable to win as a member of the Pac-12, here’s a look back at five of the most memorable games between the two sides.
2018: Utah 41, USC 28
For the first time since joining the Pac-12, Utah beat the Trojans by more than a touchdown. USC jumped out to an early 14-0 lead before the Utes, led by quarterback Tyler Huntley, scored six consecutive times to win comfortably at Rice-Eccles Stadium.
The Trojans went up 14-0 in the first quarter via a 48-yard scoop-and-score by Jay Tufele, but a 46-yard touchdown pass from Huntley to Britain Covey got the Utes settled down.
From there, the Utes’ defense held USC scoreless for two quarters, forcing the Trojans to punt five times and intercepting quarterback JT Daniels twice before the Trojans scored again in the fourth quarter.
Huntley was 22-of-29 for 341 yards passing, and he threw four touchdowns and ran for another one in a masterful performance as Utah put up 541 yards of total offense.
2017: No. 13 USC 28, Utah 27
Quarterback Troy Williams and Utah got out to a 21-7 lead over the Trojans before Sam Darnold and No. 13 USC rallied for the win at the Coliseum.
Marquise Blair got things started by running a Darnold fumble 18 yards for a touchdown before Darnold responded with a 52-yard touchdown pass to Tyler Petite to tie the game.
Williams threw two touchdown passes, both to Demari Simpkins, and Utah had a 21-7 lead at halftime.
The Trojans chipped away at the Ute lead, as the Utes punted on four straight drives. Darnold connected with Petite again in the third quarter for a touchdown, scrambling to evade the Utah rush before throwing the touchdown pass.
Early in the fourth quarter, Darnold tied the game on a 1-yard touchdown pass to Josh Falo, and then the Trojans took a 28-21 lead with just under five minutes remaining on a Ronald Jones II rushing score.
Williams engineered an 11-play, 75-yard touchdown drive that featured a 37-yard completion to Siale Fakailoatonga on fourth down to set up a Williams rushing touchdown with 42 seconds in the game.
Down one, Utah coach Kyle Whittingham opted to go for two and the win. Williams tried to scramble for the end zone but was stopped short and the Trojans held on for the win.
2016: No. 24 Utah 31, USC 27
No. 24 Utah rallied from a 10-point deficit in the fourth quarter and turned in a classic finish.
It was Darnold vs. Williams again, this one at Rice-Eccles Stadium. The Utes were down by as many as 14 points after Darnold ran for an 8-yard score in the third quarter.
Later in the quarter, Utah running back Armand Shyne fumbled on the goal line, but in the ensuing pileup, offensive lineman Isaac Asiata emerged with the ball, resulting in a Utah touchdown.
A Matt Boermeester field goal at the start of the fourth quarter meant Utah had to overcome a 10-point deficit to win. The Utes went to work, as Willams found Raelon Singleton for a 10-yard touchdown to cap off a 75-yard drive, cutting the deficit to three points.
Utah’s defense forced the Trojans to punt, and Williams and company got the ball at their own 7-yard line with 5:30 to play, and Williams engineered the game-winning drive.
Facing third-and-15 at the USC 49-yard-line with three minutes left, Williams completed a pass to Singleton for 14 yards, then Shyne converted the fourth-down run.
With 45 seconds left, Utah again faced a fourth-and-1, and this time, Zack Moss came through with a 5-yard run to set the Utes up at the Trojan 18-yard-line with time ticking.
Tim Patrick, one-on-one with Adoree Jackson, was able to win the matchup, Williams delivered the ball perfectly and the Utes won in exciting fashion.
2014: No. 19 Utah 24, No. 20 USC 21
In a matchup of two top 20 teams, No. 19 Utah was able to defeat No. 20 USC at Rice-Eccles Stadium thanks to another last-minute, game-winning touchdown drive, this time by quarterback Travis Wilson.
The Utes and Trojans went back and forth through the first three quarters. Utah’s Davion Orphey scored on a 53-yard fumble return for a touchdown on USC’s first drive of the game but Adoree Jackson put the Trojans ahead 14-10 in the second quarter on a 100-yard kick return touchdown.
In the fourth quarter, the Trojans regained the lead, going up 21-17 on a touchdown pass from Cody Kessler to Darreus Rogers, which capped off a 73-yard drive.
With two minutes left in the game, the Utes forced a crucial stop. The Trojans gambled and went for it, up four, on fourth-and-2 from Utah’s 28-yard-line. Nelson Agholor was short, and Utah had two minutes to go 73 yards for the win.
The Utes marched down the field, getting to USC’s 36-yard-line via a 17-yard pass from Wilson to Devonte Booker. Wilson completed two crucial passes, the first a 10-yard strike to Dres Anderson, and the second a 7-yard pass to Kenneth Scott.
On second-and-3, Wilson ran 19 yards, first looking like he got in for the touchdown — he was ruled short at the 1-yard-line after review — as Fox Sports announcer Gus Johnson exclaimed “Hercules!”
Wilson rolled out to his right and hit a wide-open Kaelin Clay with eight seconds left to win the game.
2011: USC 23, Utah 14
Utah’s first conference game as a member of the new Pac-12 was a thriller.
Jordan Wynn and the Utes battled Matt Barkley and the Trojans at the Coliseum. USC led for much of the game, jumping out to a 10-0 lead in the first quarter and building a 17-7 advantage in the third.
Utah responded with a John White IV rushing touchdown midway through the third period, set up by a 51-yard run by Reggie Dunn, that cut the Trojan lead to three points.
Neither team could do much on offense from that point on, with nine consecutive punts.
With 1:11 left in the game, starting at Utah’s 33-yard-line, Wynn led a drive down the field, completing a pass to DeVonte Christopher on fourth down that kept the drive alive.
After that, a pass interference penalty set the Utes up for a 41-yard field goal attempt to tie the game with 11 seconds left, but Coleman Petersen’s kick was blocked and returned for a touchdown by USC.