To say that the upcoming game between the Utah Utes and USC Trojans this weekend is going to be packed with explosive tension is an extreme understatement and one of the biggest factors in the Utes’ favor may be USC’s arrogance, according to former Utes quarterback and host of the Helmets Off podcast, Scott Mitchell.
Historically, the Utes haven’t performed well against the Trojans — the record currently sits at 11-5, favoring the University of Southern California. Fortunately for the Utes, the tides appear to be heading in their favor, at least for this weekend.
The Utes will roll into the game at Rice Eccles stadium after blasting the cleats off both Stanford and Arizona, scoring at least 40 points while being able to maintain a top-20 nationwide defense and top-2 in the Pac-12.
Scott Mitchell addresses USC’s arrogance
“This season has not disappointed and the home schedule for the University of Utah has just been incredible this year. And it gets probably as good as it could possibly get this weekend when Utah plays USC – The University of Spoiled Children,” Mitchell said on a recent episode of the Helmets Off podcast.
“The reality is, if you’re a kid or if you’re almost anyone growing up in California, in Southern California, the place you want to go is USC,” Mitchell said.
Mitchell continued to add that, “It is the school that everyone wants to get into, everyone wants to be a part of. If you’re a football player, you’re going to go to USC. And they always have great football players.”
USC is currently sitting at 4-2 overall, but Mitchell said that if you looked at this week’s press notes, you would think the team hadn’t lost all year.
“I was reading through the press notes this week and I was struck by the tone of how the notes were put together,” Mitchell said.
Traditionally, each team’s press notes highlight key statistical figures for each team, as well as potential themes that can be presented throughout the course of the game. But Mitchell thinks there may be some additional arrogance layered between the lines.
“The tone of all of this — and I don’t know if this is intended or not — is one of, ‘You should just be thankful that you actually get to play us and it should be quite an honor and a privilege for you, that we are actually going to come and visit your school, because we’re pretty much better than everyone else,'” Mitchell said.
He also noted the obvious ties related to Rice Eccles Stadium, specifically it being the location of the opening and closing ceremonies for the 2002 Winter Olympics.
“USC, of course, said, ‘It’s a fitting thing we come to this venue because we’ve had 50 Olympic athletes at USC’ and they go on to talk about how many players they have in the NFL and how many All-Americans, and Heisman Trophy winners, and how many National Championships. And I believe it’s intended to be impressive, and it is impressive, but it came across to me as kind of, a little self-indulgent and very arrogant,” Mitchell said.
Adding fuel to the fire
The tone can easily leave someone, especially a Utahn, with the impression that we should feel thankful that USC has graced us with their presence.
Fortunately for the Utes, Mitchell believes this may lead to an added boost of confidence.
“When I read all of this, it brought to my mind, I just get so annoyed when someone has this kind of attitude and I can tell you as a player and when I coached and being a fan of a team, I love when the arrogant teams come to play against you, because you are just like, oh man, you want to beat them so bad.”
Mitchell remembered multiple games where an opposing team’s arrogance just added incentive and motivation to beat those schools.
“So in 1988, Utah had not beat BYU in ten years and we went out and beat BYU 57-28 and just annihilated them. And I’m going to tell you, those victories are so much sweeter when your opponent thinks they’re going to show up and just roll you over and I love it,” he said.
Another game stands out for Mitchell, though: playing for the Detroit Lions against the San Francisco 49ers.
“I was playing for the Detroit Lions and we’re 0-3 and we’re playing on Monday Night Football against the defending World Champion San Francisco 49ers with Steve Young and all that great team. No one gave us a chance and the 49ers were just going to roll in there because they were the defending World Champions and we didn’t have a chance,” Mitchell said.
But that just makes the victory that much better, according to Mitchell.
“We didn’t have a shot, we were not going to win the game. And we end up beating them and I’m going to tell you, it was as sweet as any victory I have ever had in my life.”
So, with the Pac-12 South division possibly at stake, the Utes may just head into this weekend as favorites, and potentially with a bit more confidence.
More to the conversation
To hear the whole segment from the Helmets Off podcast with Scott Mitchell, you can download and subscribe to the podcast here or listen below.
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