Slovis, dominant defense power No. 20 USC past Utah 33-17

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Southern California quarterback Kedon Slovis throws a pass during the first half of the team's NCAA college football game against Utah on Saturday, Nov. 21, 2020, in Salt Lake City. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer)

SALT LAKE CITY – The great Southern California teams were known for their confidence. On the road against Utah, these Trojans took another step toward restoring the program’s past glory.

“We played with a swagger tonight, especially on defense,” coach Clay Helton said.

Kedon Slovis threw for two touchdowns and No. 20 USC smothered Utah in a 33-17 victory Saturday.

Slovis completed 24 of 35 passes for 264 yards for USC (3-0, 3-0 Pac-12), but the Trojans’ defense took centerstage, forcing five turnovers to stay undefeated and move into pole position for the Pac-12 South title.

“All week, our guys talked about playing like this was a bar fight. We played with a lot of viciousness and everyone was zeroed in,” linebacker Kana’I Mauga said.

USC’s game plan from the outset was to stop Utah’s ground game.

“At all costs, stop the run,” Helton said. “Once we did that, our pass rush forced throws that were interceptions, got sacks and fumbles. We were in the backfield all night.”

Utah (0-1, 0-1) was the final major conference team to make its 2020 debut after coronavirus cases scuttled its first two scheduled games of an already-delayed season.