UTAH UTES

Dominant Second Half Allows No. 11 Utah To Pull Away In Pac-12 Championship

Dec 2, 2022, 9:49 PM | Updated: 10:16 pm
utah-wide-receiver-money-parks...
LAS VEGAS, NEVADA - DECEMBER 02: Money Parks #10 of the Utah Utes runs with the ball to score a 57 yard touchdown against the USC Trojans during the third quarter in the Pac-12 Championship at Allegiant Stadium on December 02, 2022 in Las Vegas, Nevada.

LAS VEGAS – The No. 11 Utah Utes upset the No. 4 USC Trojans to win their second straight Pac-12 Conference Championship and earn a spot in the Rose Bowl Game.

Utah beats USC to win Pac-12 Championship Game

The conference title game between the Utes and Trojans is taking place at Allegiant Stadium, home of the NFL’s Las Vegas Raiders, on Friday, December 2.

Utah upset USC, 47-24.

It’s the second time Utah defeated USC this season. The Trojans only losses came to the Utes.

With the win, the Utes improved their record to 10-3 this season, including 7-2 in Pac-12 play.

Utah’s next game will be against a Big Ten Conference opponent in the Rose Bowl Game on Monday, January 2, 2023.

RELATED: After Championship Win, Utes Are Rose Bowl Bound

Pregame

 

First Quarter

Prior to kickoff, the College Football on Fox crew made their predictions with Urban Meyer picking Utah.

USC was forced to call a timeout on 3-&-2 during their opening drive.

After coming up short on third down, the Trojans went for it, picking up the first down on a Caleb Williams designed run. Two plays later the Trojans found the end zone with Williams hit Tahj Washington from two yards out.

Utah’s first drive saw Cam Rising and company move the ball with ease. After Micah Bernard picked up 11 yards on the ground, Rising hit Money Parks, Bernard & Jaylen Dixon on consecutive passes to pick up nearly 40 yards. The Utes drive stalled in the red zone as Utah settled for a 25-yard Jadon Redding field goal.

Rising passed Alex Smith on the Utes career passing list during the drive.

Williams put the Trojans in scoring position when he scrambled for 59 yards on their second play from scrimmage. Later in the drive with USC inside the Utah five-yard line, Williams fooled the Utah defense with a play-fake before finding a wide open Raleek Brown in the end zone.

After a three-and-out on the following drive, Utah punted back to USC with 1:52 left in the opening quarter.

Second Quarter

USC calmly drove into the Utes red zone for a third time. Unlike theeir previous possessions, Utah’s defense came up big when Clark Phillips III broke up a pass in the end zone, forcing the Trojans to kick a field goal.

With Utah trailing 17-3, Jaylen Dixon committed the game’s first turnover when he fumbled after a 19-yard catch and run.

Trailing by two scores and with their backs against a wall, Utah’s defense stood tall following the turnover. USC gave the ball back to Utah with a turnover on downs when Sione Vaki broke up a pass intended for Jordan Addison.

Utah’s next drive nearly ended in disaster when Bernard fumbled at the end of a 14 yard rush. Fortunately for the Utes, offensive lineman Keaton Bills had his head on a swivel, allowing him to dive on the loose ball at the USC 26-yard line..

Utah relied on the ground game, rushing the final six plays of the drive before Ja’Quinden Jackson found pay dirt with an eight yard scoring run.

The Trojans were forced to punt for the first time on their next drive, giving the Utes a chance before the end of the half.

Rising completed six passes for 76 yards on the drive and scrambled for another 11 to give the Utes first-&-goal with 11 seconds left. On second down, Rising found Dixon, who stretched to score the touchdown and tie the game at 17.

Third Quarter

Both teams punted to open the third quarter.

During a break, Utah fans celebrated their now traditional “Moment of Loudness” to honor fallen teammates Ty Jordan & Aaron Lowe.

On their next drive, Utah found the big play they had been looking for all game. Money Parks broke free down the right sideline for a 57-yard touchdown on 3rd-and-19. The touchdown gave Utah their first lead of the game, 24-17.

As the third continued, Utah’s defense looked stronger and Caleb Williams looked more and more battered.

Nursing a cut on his left hand and sporting a clear limp, Williams and the Trojan offense sputtered. USC went three & out on each of their third quarter drives, gaining a single yard in the process.

Fourth Quarter

Jadon Redding kicked a 35 yard field goal to give Utah a 27-17 lead to open the final quarter.

Caleb Williams put an end to the Trojans offensive struggles on the next drive. A 14 yard run followed by completions of 12 and 28 yards had USC in the red zone. Two plays later, Williams hit Mario Williams for a 12-yard touchdown.

The Utes answered almost immediately.

After a false start set the Utes up with 1st-and-15, Bernard ripped off a 20 yard gain. On the next play, Rising found Thomas Yassmin on the left sideline and Yassmin did the rest. The tight end bowled through USC defenders to score a 60-yard touchdown.

It was the longest touchdown of Yassmin’s career and gave Utah a 34-24 lead.

The Trojans next drive ended when RJ Hubert intercepted Williams.

Ja’Quinden Jackson capitalized on the turnover when he burst for a 53-yard touchdown to clinch the win.

Bernard added a 23-yard touchdown with 1:52 left to make the final score 47-24.

Pregame Notes

Utah enters the matchup looking to defend its Pac-12 crown against USC, who will almost assuredly secure a spot among the four teams to compete in the College Football Playoff. It’s an intriguing contest between a pair of former Pac-12 South teams, especially after the Utes handed the Trojans their only loss of the season in October. That game took place at Rice-Eccles Stadium in Salt Lake City.

Will Utah beat the same team twice or will USC avenge its only blemish of the season?

Utah arrives in Las Vegas after winning five of its final six games in the regular season. The Trojans are winners for five consecutive games, including wins over two top-25 programs to end their regular season slate.

Trojans quarterback Caleb Williams is a frontrunner to win the Heisman Trophy as the nation’s top player. A strong performance and win over the Utes could secure history for the young signal-caller.

Utes quarterback Cam Rising and tight end Dalton Kincaid look to lead the Utah offense to another 10-win season and a second straight Pac-12 title.

This is Utah’s fourth Pac-12 title game appearance in the last five seasons. It’s USC’s first trip to the conference championship since 2020, when the Trojans fell to the Oregon Ducks. Utah and USC each have four appearances in the game since its inception in 2011.

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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Dominant Second Half Allows No. 11 Utah To Pull Away In Pac-12 Championship