Three Things To Watch: No. 11 Utah Vs. No. 4 USC Pac-12 Championship Edition

Dec 1, 2022, 6:24 PM | Updated: 6:27 pm
Utah Utes defenders wrap up a USC receiver (Photo by Chris Gardner/ Getty Images)
(Photo by Chris Gardner/ Getty Images)

LAS VEGAS- The stage is set for what could perhaps be an epic rematch of one of the better games in the Pac-12 this past season. No. 11 Utah and No. 4 USC will meet up once more, this time in Las Vegas for the Pac-12 Championship Game.

The stakes are high. USC is knocking on the door of the College Football Playoff and looking for some revenge for their lone loss on the season. Utah, however, wants to defend their title from the previous season while also making sure they make a good bowl game- The Granddaddy Of Them All.

Almost two months ago in Salt Lake City, both sides gave everything they had for 60 minutes of play. Look for more of the same as the Utes and the Trojans face off one more time in 2022 for the Title. Here are three things to watch Friday night at Allegiant Stadium.


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UBoyz For Life

Utah quarterback Cam Rising and tight end Dalton Kincaid put up crazy numbers together in October when USC came to Salt Lake City. They weren’t going nowhere, and they couldn’t be stopped by the Trojans.

Rising finished that night 30 of 44 passing for 415 yards and two touchdowns. Most importantly Rising was a menace on his feet tucking the ball 11 times, running for 60 yards and three more touchdowns.

Kincaid, Rising’s partner in crime against USC was just as potent. The talented tight end posted 16 of 16 catches for 234 yards and one touchdown.


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The big question is can these two do it again- at least enough to keep the USC defense on their toes? Both have been banged up since that game and neither have put up quite the same production, though it does feel like they have been on the mend. We’ll find out how far along they are Friday night.

Utah D-Fence

Utah’s defense has come a loooooooooooong way since their first meeting with USC. A long, long, loooooooooooong way. In fact, many believe the Trojans were the turning point for the Utes defensively this season and there is certainly reason to believe that is correct.

The Utes have been really tough on defense since their meeting with Caleb Williams and USC in October. They currently lead the Pac-12 in several statistical categories including third down defense, fourth down defense, passing yards allowed, and rushing defense.

It will all be put to the test against Williams and the prolific Trojan offense. Utah’s defense was ok in their first meeting, but more likely than not they will need to be great if the Utes want to earn their second Pac-12 Championship.


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Pac-12 Championship Element Of Surprise

It always feels like the bigger the game is, the more likely the Utes are to pull out the element of surprise. Utah taking on a very confident USC team with the stakes at hand for both teams definitely qualifies as a big game.

We’ve already seen the Utes get creative on offense several times this year whether it’s been moving quarterback Ja’Quinden Jackson to running back, bringing in freshman quarterback Nate Johnson for a play or two, or even having starting quarterback Cam Rising kick out to a receiver type position.

In the past we’ve seen the Utes take aggressive shots with flea-flickers and hook-and-ladders.

Some have worked beautifully, others have not which is pretty much the name of the game when you decide to be bold and go outside your comfort zone.

Look for Utah to deploy a “wow” play or two that is not on anyone’s radar and how well it is or isn’t executed in Friday night’s showdown for the Pac-12 Title.


Michelle Bodkin is the Utah Utes Insider for KSLsports.com and host of both the Crimson Corner Podcast (SUBSCRIBE) and The Saturday Show (Saturday from 10 a.m.–12 p.m.) on The KSL Sports Zone. Follow her on Twitter and Instagram: @BodkinKSLsports


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Three Things To Watch: No. 11 Utah Vs. No. 4 USC Pac-12 Championship Edition