Utah vs. USC, 8 ET
Don’t look now, but we’ve got ourselves a championship game on a Friday night. That’s right the Pac-12 Championship trophy will be hoisted tonight by one of the teams, we just aren’t sure yet which it is. We see a 9-3, 11th-ranked Utah Utes team coming in to take on an 11-1, 4th-ranked USC. USC obviously has a bit more on the line, but let’s get into that in a moment.
Utah comes into the game having won four of their past five matchups. Their only loss came at a ranked Oregon team that has been good lately. The next week they took out their frustration on a Colorado team that they beat by 42 points, scoring touchdown after touchdown. Utah’s defense has been strong this season with very few holes in the secondary and a fairly stout run defense. However, USC has one of the best offenses in the country, so this will be quite the challenge. In the first game they played, Utah handed USC their only loss of the season, winning the game at home with a score of 43-42. It was similar to how LSU beat Alabama in that the winning touchdown was scored and instead of going for an extra point, they opted to go with a 2pt conversion and were successful.
USC needs to win this game to stay in the College Football Playoff picture. If they lose, even if it is close, I have to imagine they drop out of contention. If you look at the win probability of the first game against Utah, they were likely to win basically until the last minute of the game. It was more of a back-and-forth battle than that chart shows, but USC never really was in jeopardy. The only time they were losing the game was when they lost it. They were ahead after the first three quarters, just not the final one. That, to me, indicates this one slipped away. Kudos, of course, to Utah, and claiming the big game, but this isn’t a matter of dominance on either side. USC will certainly need to play better defense in this one and they need to stop Cameron Rising from, well, rising to the occasion here. He had three touchdown runs and a pass in the first game. Contain him and it should be fine for USC to stay in the College Football Playoffs.
I don’t really think it will be a straight shootout like the last game. The defenses both know they need to play better than what they showed but you have two really strong offenses. I’m not going for the under on this one. Instead, my play on the game is on the spread, I’m taking USC to cover this game at -2.5.
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