We can only hope the rematch is as good as the original.
USC and Utah meet for the second time in less than two months in the Pac-12 championship game on Friday evening in Las Vegas and the game has a lot to live up to.
Back on Oct. 15, in Salt Lake City, the Utes outlasted the Trojans 43-42 in a game that featured 12 touchdowns and more than 1,100 yards of offense Utah won it when quarterback Cam Rising scored on a 1-yard run then ran in the two-point try with 48 seconds left.
Kickoff Friday is 5 p.m. on FOX. The Pac-12 announced on Thursday morning that the game at Allegiant Stadium is a sellout.
The loss to Utah (9-3, 7-2) is the only blemish on the Trojans’ record (11-1, 8-1 Pac-12), but USC will have far more than revenge on its minds come kickoff.
A victory will virtually lock up a spot in the College Football Playoff for the Trojans, who climbed to No. 4 this week in the CFP rankings. Win and they’re in.
And a USC victory might accomplish more than that: A big game by Caleb Williams could significantly boost the sophomore quarterback’s chances to become the first Heisman Trophy winner from the Pac-12 since Marcus Mariota of Oregon in 2014, the first from USC since Reggie Bush in 2005 (since vacated). Heisman voting closes on Monday, so this weekend is the last chance for players to state their case.
Williams is now regarded as the favorite, having climbed past Ohio State quarterback C.J. Stroud after the Buckeyes’ loss to Michigan. Williams has passed and rushed for combined totals of more than 4,000 yards and 44 touchdowns, with just three interceptions.
Week 13 records: Jeff 4-3, Jake 4-3
Season records: Jeff 56-33-1, Jake 49-40-1
All picks against the spread
Betting line from sisportsbook.com
Pac-12 Championship Game
at Allegiant Stadium, Las Vegas
USC (minus-3) vs. Utah, 5 p.m., FOX
Jake: Utah quarterback Cam Rising is back to 100%, which makes the Utes a threat, and tight end Dalton Kincaid is expected to play Friday after being injured against Colorado. Kincaid had 16 catches for 234 yards in Utah’s one-point win over the Trojans in October. But can Utah handle Caleb Williams, who is playing at a Heisman Trophy level? Utah will score a bunch of points against USC's suspect defense, but USC will score more thanks to one costly Utah turnover. The difference from their first matchup: The previous one was in Salt Lake City; this one is in Las Vegas. Pick: USC
Jeff: We might discover in this one just how much the Utah home-field advantage is worth. The Utes prevailed 43-42 at home in mid-October, demonstrating again that playing in Salt Lake City is as tough an assignment as there is in the Pac-12. The Utes aren’t quite as formidable when they leave home. In home games vs. FBS opponents, Utah is 5-0 and averages 41.4 points. Away from home (excluding Colorado, which is barely an FBS program right now), the Utes are 2-3 and scoring 26 points per game. That will make a difference here. Pick: USC
Cover photo of USC quarterback Caleb Williams by Kirby Lee, USA Today
Follow Jeff Faraudo of Cal Sports Report on Twitter: @jefffaraudo