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No. 20 USC could easily be 0-2 if not for six minutes that had a few key drives, an onside kick and a tipped ball. The undefeated Trojans have found a way to win its games against Arizona and Arizona State, but it hasn't been wasy. Now on the road for the second straight week, USC heads to Utah on Saturday.

The Utes haven't played a game yet because of two COVID-19-related cancellations, so this will be the first time they've played for the better part of a year. The coronavirus outbreak within the program did more than enough to force Utah to cancel games against Arizona and UCLA, but the roster sounds close to being ready for USC. 

There was even some concern as late as Saturday that the game may not take place because of lingering issues at Utah. But with the clearance given, it's all systems go in Salt Lake City and time to find out what the 2020 version of the Utes will look like after coming up just short in the Pac-12 title game against Oregon in 2019.

So what can we expect from the Utes in their season opener? And can USC continue to keep winning games in the waning moments? Let's take a closer look at the matchups and storylines to follow in this one before making some expert picks both straight up and against the spread.

Storylines

USC: It's no secret the Trojans have left some things to be desired. The offense sputtered against Arizona, going 6 of 15 on third and fourth downs. Quarterback Kedon Slovis looked off on his throws, too, though he and coach Clay Helton have insisted that there are no lingering problems. And the defense has given up some big plays. It's not that USC is a bad team -- they've made big plays when they needed them -- but they are also probably a little lucky to be 2-0. Does that trend continue or will USC finally wake up for 60 minutes?

Utah: How are the Utes physically and mentally after not only such a long layoff, but the roller coasters of the last two weeks? Utah is the last FBS team to have scheduled games this fall and not played them yet. The sudden cancellations are tough on a football team that is ready to go. At the same time, the Utes had to roll heavy with scout team players during the worst days of the coronavirus outbreak. How has that affected normal preparation with the first and second teams? Who knows what to expect out of this group.

Viewing information

Date: Saturday, Nov. 21 | Time: 10:30 p.m. ET
Location: Rice-Eccles Stadium -- Salt Lake City, Utah 
TV: ESPN | Live stream: fuboTV (Try for free)

USC at Utah prediction, picks

It'll be interesting to see where this line ends up on game day. It's moved some in favor of USC. The Trojans have been frustrating to watch even if you're not emotionally invested. Still, they have two games under their belt and Utah has none. And while the Utes are talking as though they'll be fine roster-wise, you just don't know what a team has until it's been on the field. The spread makes you pause for a minute, but USC is literally the only proven one of the two. Pick: USC -2.5


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Dennis Dodd
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Chip Patterson
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Tom Fornelli
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Barrett Sallee
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Ben Kercheval
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Jerry Palm
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David Cobb
ATS
S/U

Which college football picks can you make with confidence in Week 12? Visit SportsLine to see which teams will win and cover the spread -- all from a proven computer model that has returned almost $3,900 in profit over the past four-plus seasons -- and find out.