USC lost one game in the regular season … against Utah. Will their rematch in the 2022 Pac-12 Championship Game yield a different result? With a potential College Football Playoff spot on the line, the Trojans sure hope so. Let’s dive into the latest betting odds and our USC vs. Utah prediction.
Utah vs. USC Odds
All Utah vs. USC odds are from DraftKings Sportsbook.
- Spread: USC (-2.5)
- Moneyline: USC (-145), Utah (+125)
- Over/Under: 67 points
Not only were the Utes the only team to beat the Trojans this year, but they were also the only team to be the betting favorite over Lincoln Riley’s squad. So, what’s changed? Why has the pendulum swung to the other side?
USC sprinted to five straight victories after their lone loss, dropping Notre Dame 38-27 in the regular season finale. Plus, Utah will be without key players from their last matchup, including RB Tavion Thomas and DL Van Fillinger.
Since moving to the Pac-12 in 2010, Utah has gone 5-7 against USC. However, they are on a two-game win streak. The last time these two teams met (Week 7), 85 points were scored, and despite losing 43-42, USC covered the +3.5 spread.
Both programs own a positive record against the spread (USC 8-4, Utah 7-5), with the Utes covering in their last three contests.
And while the Pac-12 Championship being played in a neutral site (Allegiant Stadium in Las Vegas, Nevada) should favor USC after they nearly “upset” Utah on their home field, the Trojans are 1-10 ATS in their last 11 neutral-site games.
With two offenses averaging 39+ points per game, the over seems like the safe bet in the Pac-12 Championship. That’s especially true with USC taking one side of the field, as they are 9-3 on over/unders (each set at 60+) this year.
Prediction for Utah vs. USC in the Pac-12 Championship Game
The Pac-12 hasn’t had a representative in the College Football Playoffs since the 2016-17 season. That’s what’s on the line for No. 4 USC, as “all” they need to do is beat Utah, and they’ll lock in their spot for the postseason.
The Utes, meanwhile, hope to play spoiler once again, but it’s going to be much tougher this time. Trojans QB and current Heisman favorite Caleb Williams has the offense humming. He’s completed nearly 66% of his passes for 34 touchdowns and just three interceptions at 9.1 yards per clip.
Riley knows how to scheme and call plays, and having a potential first-round pick in Jordan Addison certainly makes life easier. And Tahj Washington, Mario Williams, and Brenden Rice have all flashed at WR. But what makes this Trojans’ offensive attack so dangerous is what Williams does off-script.
He routinely breaks sacks, extends plays outside the pocket, and will use his legs downfield when the opportunities present themselves. As the saying goes, “you can’t stop him; you can only hope to contain him.”
And even without RB Travis Dye, who suffered a season-ending injury in mid-November, backup Austin Jones has rushed for 120+ yards in the last two games. It’s no wonder USC has generated 510 points, good for fifth in the entire country.
But don’t write off the Utes. The defense has allowed just the 22nd-fewest points (241) in the nation. Clark Phillips III is an early-round draft prospect, but Zemaiah Vaughn has quietly shut down his side of the field as well.
Mohamoud Diabate is another NFL prospect and a second-level disrupter doing his best to fill Devin Lloyd’s shoes. But where Utah may struggle is up front. With Fillinger done for the year, the onus has been on Gabe Reid and Jonah Elliss to generate pressure.
Well, Elliss is questionable for the Pac-12 Championship. And if he is out, Kyle Whittingham will have to scheme up pressure, which he has done effectively with safety Cole Bishop and the linebackers.
As for their offense, Cameron Rising and Co. have their work cut out for them. Not because USC’s defense is “elite” — far from it, actually (405.3 yards allowed per game) — but because they are limited in the playmaker department.
Losing Brant Kuithe was a huge loss, and it’s allowed defenses to key on star tight end Dalton Kincaid. And while Devaughn Vele is a serviceable option at WR, no other player has 30+ receptions or 350+ receiving yards.
And without Tavion Thomas in the backfield, Utah’s leading rusher is Rising with 391 yards. That’s a recipe for breakout pass rusher Tuli Tuipulotu and cornerbacks Mekhi Blackmon and Calen Bullock to wreak havoc for USC’s D.
If you couldn’t tell, my lean is toward the Trojans in the 2022 Pac-12 Championship Game. I believe the Utes will still put up a valiant effort, as they always do. But Williams is the Heisman favorite for a reason, and he’s sure to produce more “Heisman moments” tonight.
Utah vs. USC Prediction: USC 38, Utah 30