Utah Wins Back-to-Back Pac-12 Titles and Earns Another Rose Bowl

Utah Wins Back-to-Back Pac-12 Titles and Earns Another Rose Bowl

Featured image courtesy Ben B. Braun, Deseret News

by Brendan Butterfield

The Utah Utes took on the USC Trojans in an anticipated rematch for the Pac-12 Championship at Allegiant Stadium in Las Vegas, Nevada. USC looked to redeem their lone loss on the year to Utes and punch their ticket to the College Football Playoff. The Utes looked to defend their Pac 12 title and return to the Rose Bowl and did so with a 47-24 win.

Competitive Start

The Trojans started off hot as Heisman hopeful QB Caleb Williams diced the Utah defense. A busted coverage would result in a 50-yard completion from Williams to WR Tahj Washington. They would connect from two yards to take an early 7-0 lead (Q1 11:28).

Slow first quarters have been the story for the Utes all season long, and it was no different in this game. Despite producing a great first drive, the Utes were forced to take a field goal to make it 7-3 with 6:10 remaining in the first quarter.

Williams led the Trojans right down the field again in just over three minutes for another touchdown, this time finding WR Raleek Brown to make it 14-3 with 2:52 remaining in the first quarter. Williams had the Trojans working like a well-oiled machine early.

The Utes turned things around in the second quarter by outscoring the Trojans 14-3. That included a huge touchdown pass. Despite a hot start, it was a 17-17 game going into the half.

Second Half

The third quarter’s lone score was Utah’s, as QB Cameron Rising found WR Money Parks for a 57-yard touchdown on third-and-19 with 57 seconds remaining in the third quarter. Utah was to make it a two-possession game off the leg of Jadon Redding to make it 27-17 at the start of the fourth quarter.

USC answered in the fourth as a hobbled Williams found WR Mario Williams for a 12-yard score to cut it to 27-24 with 10:52 left in the game. Williams’s limp worsened as the game wore on, but he continued to find ways to be productive.

Utah would go on to score 20 unanswered (one missed PAT) to end the game, as USC’s defense missed tackle after tackle. With Williams not being one hundred percent, the Trojan defense needed a stop but never found an answer. It didn’t matter who the Utes used. Their strategy worked.

Running backs Ja’Quinden Jackson (13 carries, 105 yards, 2 TD’s) and Micah Bernard (11 carries, 88 yards, 1 TD) had their way all night, combining for 193 yards and 3 touchdowns.

The Utes punched their ticket to the Rose Bowl once again. Cam Rising’s phenomenal performance earned him the Pac-12 Championship MVP trophy. He completed 22 of 34 for 310 yards and three touchdowns. The Utes have established themselves as an elite college football program with back-to-back Pac-12 titles and will look to take care of unfinished business in the Rose Bowl as they face Penn State.

 

The Trojans playoff hopes are all but gone (1% chance to make the playoff according to ESPN) and are projected to play in the Cotton Bowl against the winner of UCF/Tulane.

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