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Utah vs USC Betting Odds, Predictions: Our Top Pac-12 Title Game Pick

Utah vs USC Betting Odds, Predictions: Our Top Pac-12 Title Game Pick article feature image
Credit:

Gina Ferazzi / Los Angeles Times via Getty Images. Pictured: Kyron Hudson (10) of USC and his teammates.

Utah vs USC Odds

Friday, Dec. 2
8 p.m. ET
FOX
Utah Odds
Spread Total Moneyline
+2.5
-104
67.5
-108o / -112u
+125
USC Odds
Spread Total Moneyline
-2.5
-118
67.5
-108o / -112u
-150
Odds viaย FanDuel.ย Get up-to-the-minuteย college football odds here.

In a weekend full of rematches, the Pac-12 Championship pits two teams that went toe-to-toe earlier this season.

College Football Playoff contender USC has just a single loss this season โ€” a one-point defeat to Utah at Rice-Eccles Stadium on Oct. 15. An emotional scene played out for the Utes, who honored fallen teammates with custom helmets.

Utah took a gut punch early and faced a two-touchdown deficit to the Trojans, but they jammed five touchdowns over the final six drives.

The game was decided on a two-point conversion to avoid overtime against USC.

UTAH LEADS!@Utah_Football converts for 2 to take the 1-point lead late! pic.twitter.com/e2R04hx8SI

— FOX College Football (@CFBONFOX) October 16, 2022

There’s plenty at stake for both teams in this matchup, as a victory for Utah would give it a second consecutive conference championship.

Before last season, Utah had never been to a Rose Bowl. Now, the program can make consecutive trips in a matter of 12 months.

The stakes are much bigger for USC, as a first-ever trip to the College Football Playoff and a Heisman campaign depend on the conference championship.


Utah Utes

Utah head coach Kyle Whittingham has led a steady team to the conference title game after defeating USC. Utah notched one loss in the final five games, a road trip to Autzen in a low-scoring affair with Oregon.

Led by quarterback Cam Rising, Utah boasts a top-10 offense in terms of Success Rate and Havoc Allowed.

After suffering an injury, star running back Tavion Thomas made a decision to opt out of the rest of the season to focus on the NFL Draft.

Gods plan ๐Ÿ™๐Ÿพ thank youuu Utah nation pic.twitter.com/1K00bJdkUg

— Tavion.Thomas (@thiagoothomas9) November 25, 2022

Utah now faces the task of getting ground production from Micah Bernard after the sophomore averaged just seven carries a game.

Despite the loss of talent in the backfield, Rising has picked up plenty of scramble yards this season. The junior quarterback has logged more than 250 of his 435 rushing yards from scramble attempts.

The ground game has complemented a declining number in big-time throw and turnover-worthy play rate compared to 2021.

FLORIDA INTERCEPTS CAM RISING IN THE END ZONE TO PUT THIS GAME ON ICE #GOGATORS #COLLEGEFOOTBALL

pic.twitter.com/JKfBdqvwYU

— The College Football & Basketball Experience (@TCEonSGPN) September 4, 2022

The coverage unit continues to be the calling card for the defense. Coordinator Morgan Scalley has a top-25 unit in PFF coverage grading, Havoc and opponent third-down conversions.

Shutdown cornerback play has been the recipe each week for Utah, with Zemaiah Vaughn leading the team with eight forced incompletions on the season. Opposite Vaughn is Clark Phillips III, who’s graded as the 11th-best cornerback in college football.

The run-stoppers haven’t had as much success as the pass defense, but recent Pac-12 play shows a defense on the rise. Colorado, Oregon, Stanford and Washington State all failed to gain 65 rushing yards against Utah.

While those teams are in the bottom half of the conference, Utah has faced a top-20 strength of record.

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USC Trojans

There was never a proper time to invest in USC to win the Pac-12. After their only loss of the season to Utah, the Trojans fell to +275 odds to win the conference.

There have been plenty of indicators in the advanced analytics to suggest USC has been the benefactor in every aspect this season. The Trojans are outside the top 100 in penalties while leading the nation in turnover margin. Head coach Lincoln Riley has been fortunate with a +22 net turnover number.

Calen Bullock picks off Drew Pyne pic.twitter.com/ON3O3K2KQG

— ๐—™๐—ข๐—Ÿ๐—Ÿ๐—ข๐—ช @๐—™๐—ง๐—•๐—ฒ๐—ฎ๐—ฟ๐—ฑ๐Ÿณ (@FTBeard7) November 27, 2022

The remaining defense statistics have been depressed, specifically near-dead last ranks against the rush and in Finishing Drives. Opponents have averaged 4.4 points per drive that crosses USC’s 40-yard line.

The Trojans’ success falls completely on the shoulders of the offense, led by Heisman Trophy favorite Caleb Williams.

Williams’ transfer from Oklahoma has been a wild success. The sophomore has thrown just three interceptions, lowering his turnover-worthy play rate from his time under center in a Sooners uniform.

More impressive is a low 15% pressure-to-sack ratio, as the USC offensive line has allowed 153 pressured dropbacks. Williams has been excellent at avoiding sacks despite facing the 12th-most pressures of any quarterback this season.

The Heisman Trophy will be hard-earned thanks to a minimal drop in adjusted completion percentage and no interceptions in a crowded pocket.

Trying to tackle Caleb Williams might just be the most difficult thing to do

pic.twitter.com/hBNomYJOgx

— PFF College (@PFF_College) November 27, 2022


Utah vs USC Matchup Analysis

Toggle the dropdowns below to hide or show how Utah and USC match up statistically:

Utah Offense vs USC Defense
Offense
Defense
Edge
Rush Success 5 126
Line Yards 6 90
Pass Success 9 116
Pass Blocking** 60 71
Havoc 9 39
Finishing Drives 56 121
** Pass Blocking (Off) vs Pass Rush (Def)

USC Offense vs Utah Defense
Offense
Defense
Edge
Rush Success 3 53
Line Yards 1 62
Pass Success 6 27
Pass Blocking** 10 97
Havoc 5 23
Finishing Drives 9 56
** Pass Blocking (Off) vs Pass Rush (Def)

Pace of Play / Other
PFF Tackling 73 33
PFF Coverage 23 58
SP+ Special Teams 94 117
Seconds per Play 28.5 (105) 27.1 (83)
Rush Rate 56.4% (45) 49.5% (93)
Data via CollegeFootballData.com (CFBD), FootballOutsiders, SP+, Pro Football Focus and SportSource Analytics.

Utah vs USC Betting Pick

The loss of Thomas from the stable of running backs may not be as direct of a hit to the Utah offense. Bernard will be part of the workload in the rushing attack, but the emergence of Ja’Quinden Jackson has been notable.

Whittingham praised his ball security, but the sophomore’s explosiveness and elusiveness have Utah reloading at the running back position. Jackson tallied three rushing touchdowns against Colorado, bringing his season yards after contact number to 4.5 on 53 carries.

Ja'Quinden Jackson 66 yards to the house! #Utah pic.twitter.com/nZK8auqxMQ

— ๐—™๐—ข๐—Ÿ๐—Ÿ๐—ข๐—ช @๐—™๐—ง๐—•๐—ฒ๐—ฎ๐—ฟ๐—ฑ๐Ÿณ (@FTBeard7) November 26, 2022

Jackson has yet to log carries against a competent rush defense but will be heavily involved against the USC defense.

The bigger issue for the Utah offense is the health of tight end Dalton Kincaid. Whittingham was positive about his status for the USC game but left the door open by saying that his participation is not a “guarantee.”

Kincaid was the biggest piece of the game plan against USC earlier this season, catching all season-high 16 targets for 234 yards.

The previous game in Rice-Eccles turned out to be a high-scoring affair with more than 80 points. There’s plenty of evidence to suggest the outcome could be different in this game, starting with USC’s rushing game.

The Trojans have moved from 10 to 11 personnel exclusively since the Utah game. The focus on the rush has never been higher, as Austin Jones posted a season-high 25 carries against Notre Dame.

Despite the turnovers and penalty aspects of USC football, no defense has found a way to contain Williams between the tackles. The Utah defense did post the highest number of pressures and sacks in its victory over the Trojans, but the new rushing emphasis for USC will slow the pace of the game.

The Utes are sure to rack up explosive runs, but long and methodical drives that keep Williams off the field is the formula to win the Pac-12.

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