The anticipated matchup between USC center Khaled Holmes and Utah's Star Lotulelei didn't disappoint Thursday, with Lotulelei decisively winning the individual battle.
Lotulelei, Utah's 6-foot-4, 320-pound defensive tackle, forced and recovered a fumble and tackled USC running back Silas Redd for a 3-yard loss in the opening minutes.
The game's first fumble was recovered by Nate Fakahafua, who ripped the ball out of the hands of USC quarterback Matt Barkley and returned it eight yards for a touchdown.
Lotulelei recovered a second fumble on USC's 13-yard line. Two plays later, Utah quarterback Jon Hays threw a touchdown pass to Kenneth Scott.
Lotulelei's performance in the opening minutes was his best since the BYU game when he batted down two passes, had seven tackles, forced a fumble and blocked a field goal.
Safety Brian Blechen had a chance to get his first interception of the year in the second quarter when Barkley threw it right to him, but Blechen dropped the ball as he tried to keep his feet in the end zone.
New guy in
With defensive end Joe Kruger still hampered by a foot injury, the Utes moved sophomore V.J. Fehoko from linebacker to defensive end. The Utes hope Fehoko, who had 62 sacks in his high school career, can help get more pressure.
Moving Fehoko required the Utes to use freshman Reshawn Hooker at linebacker. The Utes were hoping to redshirt Hooker this season, instead he had his first start, along with fellow linebacker Jason Whittingham and defensive lineman Tenny Palepoi.
Scouts from 13 NFL teams were in attendance. â¦ The Utes wore pink ribbons on the back of their helmets since October is cancer awareness month.