Mandatory Credit: Photo by Louis Lopez/CSM/Shutterstock (13647335s) Las Vegas, NV.Utah Utes quarterback Cameron Rising #7 in action in the second quarter during the NCAA Football Pac-12 Championship game between the USC Trojans and the Utah Utes at Allegiant Stadium in Las Vegas, Nevada..Mandatory Photo Credit: Louis Lopez/Cal Sport Media NCAA Football PAC 12 Championship Utah vs USC, Las Vegas, USA – 02 Dec 2022
No. 11 Utah 47, No. 4 USC 24
Well, it is official. Utah is USC’s kryptonite. USC’s only two losses of the season both came to the Utes, this one keeping them out of the college football playoff. With a win, USC was virtually locked into the playoff, but instead, USC misses a shot at a national title, and Utah comes away with a Pac-12 championship.
This game quickly became about USC’s defense more than anything else. They simply could not tackle in this game. Utah played physical from the beginning, but the Trojans were missing obvious tackles, especially in the second half. There were too many instances where big plays turned into scores because of a missed wide-open tackle down the field. With that said, you cannot take away from what Utah produced offensively tonight. Coming into the game, Utah’s offense was dependent on the efficiency and decision-making of quarterback Cameron Rising. He played one of his better games of the season, completing 22-of-34 pass attempts for 310 yards and three touchdowns. Putting together a game like this comes a bit easier when not facing much pressure, as he was only sacked once. The Utes got great production from their running backs. Ja’Quinden Jackson put together multiple big plays rushing for 105 yards and two touchdowns on 13 carries. Micah Bernard paired up with 88 yards and a touchdown of his own on 11 carries. Utah made Caleb Williams’ life harder than anyone has all season. Williams was sacked seven times in the game as the Utah pass rush was all over him. With the win, Utah earns a spot in the Rose Bowl and takes home an unexpected conference title.
USC could not tackle. Their defense played poorly against an offense that could have been exploited. The Trojans were just off-balance on a night they could not be. USC surrendered 533 total yards of offense tonight and missed over 20 tackles in the game. It was truly a regrettable defensive performance. That caused the offense to force things against a solid Utah defense. Caleb Williams had solid numbers but faced pressure all night and played hobbled for three quarters. Williams finished 28-of-41 for 363 yards with three touchdowns and an interception that came in the final six minutes of the game. The issues that USC has faced all season plagued them in this game. They struggled defensively and could not effectively run the football. Utah shut down the Trojans’ running game surrendering just 56 total yards on the ground. USC was one-of-12 on third down in this game which is uncharacteristically bad for an offense as explosive as theirs. The loss keeps them out of the college football playoff and spoils what was otherwise a fantastic first season for the Trojans under Lincoln Riley.