The moon and the stars had to align for Utah to get their ticket punched to the conference title tilt against USC but it all worked out and now they will defend their Pac-12 crown against the powerhouse Trojans.
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Utah Utes vs. USC Trojans
Friday, December 2, 2022 – 08:00 PM EST at Allegiant Stadium
All Pieces Fell Into Place for Utah
The Utes knew they needed several dominoes to fall just right to win the three-team tiebreaker with Oregon and Washington. But one thing that had to happen for the pieces to come together, was a victory over Colorado in their regular-season finale.
That was almost a foregone conclusion, as Utah was installed as a 30-point road favorite, therefore, it wasn’t surprising when the Utes drew away to a 63-21 win while waiting to see if the other pieces of the puzzle fell into place. Quarterback Cameron Rising tossed 3 touchdowns against Colorado in the first half before taking a seat on the sidelines for the remainder of the game.
Utes’ coach, Kyle Whittingham, commented after the game, “Cam was lights-out in the first half. He was as sharp as he’s ever been. He’s our leader … As Cam goes, so goes the offense. He was extremely sharp in that first half.”
Whittingham went on to say, “He did a great job taking care of the football. We put a lot on his plate as far as on the line of scrimmage, checks, getting us in and out of the right plays, depending on the defensive looks … He does an outstanding job with that.”
And it just so happened that Washington defeated their intrastate rivals from Washington State while Oregon fell to Oregon State, leaving Utah as the winner of the tiebreaker. But if Utah wants to remain as the Pac-12 champions then their quarterback, Cam Rising, will have to be up to the challenge, as he was in Utah’s regular-season win over USC when he passed for 2 touchdowns and ran for 3, piling up 415 yards through the air in the Utes’ 43-42 victory.
More Than Pac-12 Championship on the Line for USC
USC knew what they were doing when they wooed Lincoln Riley away from Oklahoma and into the sun-splashed climes of Southern California. Riley has taken a 4-8 team from a year ago and sculpted it into a powerhouse program, one win away from a conference championship and very possibly a berth in the College Football Playoff (CFP).
In their latest outing, the Trojans defeated No. 15 Notre Dame, 38-27, and easily covered the four-point impost. USC’s Heisman Trophy candidate, quarterback Caleb Williams, was dominant once again throwing for 232 yards with 1 passing and 3 rushing touchdowns.
Should the Trojans avenge their earlier season loss to the Utes, and do it in impressive fashion, the No. 4 seed will likely be theirs for the taking.
Utah vs. USC: Game Prediction
We should understand that this game will be played at a neutral site, Allegiant Stadium, home of the Las Vegas Raiders. The last time these teams met was at Rice-Eccles Stadium, in Salt Lake City. Now, the Utes won’t have a largely partisan crowd cheering them on and that can only be good news for the Trojans.
USC may have lost to the Utes 6 weeks ago, but they did cover as 3.5-point road dogs. And speaking of covers, the Trojans have cashed in 3 of their last 4 meetings with the Utes. But the very early line shows USC as a 1 to 2.5-point favorite which means only winning by 3 or more points will give them cover. But the way these teams match up, I think the best sportsbooks have the wrong favorite.
Both teams have prolific offenses, with USC ranked 3rd (42.5 PPG) and Utah ranked 10th (39.4 PPG) in points scored. But the Utes have one thing the Trojans don’t: a defense. And that will be the key to Utah’s victory because USC ranks 110th in defending the pass, allowing nearly 263 yards per game, and are ranked 50th against the run.
Conversely, Utah checks in with the 17th-ranked run-stop unit and are 36th against the pass. The reason the oddsmakers have installed the Trojans as favorites in this highly competitive contest is that they have street cred in a Heisman Trophy candidate under center, Caleb Williams, and a household name in head coach Lincoln Riley. The public also knows USC has added incentive to win this game, as an invitation to the CFP could be in the offing if they win.
Perception is reality when it comes to creating college football lines and the oddsmakers understand the public’s inclination will be to bet on USC. We should also note that the casual bettors won’t even be aware that this game is at a neutral site as the Trojans are the designated home team.
Let’s take advantage of a good line and watch the Utes come away with the victory as they keep this one low.
*The line and/or odds on picks in this article might have moved since the content was commissioned. For updated line movements, visit BMR’s free betting odds product.