The time is here.
With everything on the line, the USC Trojans and Utah Utes face off in the Pac-12 title game in Las Vegas on Friday night. If USC wins, the Trojans will secure a spot in the College Football Playoff.
If the Trojans lose, they most likely still end up in a New year’s Six bowl, so Lincoln Riley’s first year as head coach in L.A. is off to a smashing start. However, Utah is a tough team and the only team this year to defeat USC.
Back in October, the Utes stunned the Trojans as Cam Rising ran in a game-winning 2-point conversion in Salt Lake City to secure the win. The Trojans want revenge more than ever against the defending Pac-12 champions.
Here are some of the predictions from experts across the country.
CAM MELLOR, PRO FOOTBALL NETWORK: USC
The Trojans get revenge against Utah with everything on the line. Here’s why Mellor went with USC:
Utah is banged up, and RB Tavion Thomas played his last game for Utah two weeks ago. Combine that with the fact that Caleb Williams is playing to his two biggest strengths right now? You may have some trouble slowing down the momentum.
The College Football Playoff is on the line for the Trojans. If they’re up for the moment, they win and they’re in. They’ll be up for that moment.
Prediction: USC 35, Utah 30
COLLEGE FOOTBALL NEWS: USC
The consensus pick from College Football News across the network is USC to win the game.
PETE FIUTAK, COLLEGE FOOTBALL NEWS: USC
Pete Fiutak is rolling with USC with a score prediction of 38-34. Here’s some of his analysis:
Utah will get up fast and look like it’s in control, but Williams and the Trojans will creep on back before taking over midway through the second half after the team calms down and settles in.
It’s not going to be as much fun as the first time around, but it’ll be a blast.
One way or another, the College Football Playoff will probably be settled before Saturday.
JON WILNER, THE MERCURY NEWS: USC
Pac-12 insider Jon Wilner is rolling with the Trojans with a 42-27 final score, and here’s why:
Another expectation: More brilliance from USC quarterback Caleb Williams.
The outcome likely hinges on Cam Rising, who was superb seven weeks ago but has thrown several ill-timed interceptions this season (Florida and Oregon, for example).
USC’s otherworldly turnover margin of +22 (four giveaways, 26 takeaways) is based on a combination of blind luck, first-rate opportunism by the defense and stellar decision-making by Williams.
If the turnovers are even, the finish should be riveting (and hopefully decided on the field, not in the replay booth).
But if the Trojans once again win the turnover game — and why would their success stop now? — the outcome won’t be in doubt with two minutes remaining.
NICK MUSIAL, SPORTING NEWS: USC
The Trojans get the win in this prediction in a 41-34 final.
USC’s entering the Pac-12 Championship game playing its best football, exactly what a team with National Championship aspirations wants. While the line value may actually lie with the Utes getting a field goal on a neutral field, it’s really tough to bet against Caleb Williams right now. Williams lights up the Utes’ defense for a second time, but this go-around, the Trojans’ defense does enough to limit Utah’s offense. Lincoln Riley and company claim the Pac-12 crown and secure the school’s first-ever trip to the CFP.
CHRIS HUMMER, 247SPORTS: USC
The Trojans are a popular pick, and Chris Hummer of 247Sports has this game extremely close as Trojans fans sweat till the end:
I’d expect a lot of points in this one once again. These teams combined for 85 points the first time, and I don’t think either offense is in position to stop the other. This matchup is a bit different, though, because it’s a neutral site. Utah edged USC the first time because of fourth down success (3 for 3 versus 0 for 2) and penalties (5 versus 12), but those areas can swing from game to game. I think the Trojans get a stop or two via a turnover and win in a shootout. … USC 38, Utah 35
BRAD CRAWFORD, 247SPORTS: USC
The Trojans enter the weekend with the most on the line: A win sends them to the Playoff, but a loss sends them to a New Year’s Six bowl or the Rose Bowl, although the latter seems more unlikely, Despite the pressure, Crawford gives his reasons why USC will win the game:
The worry here about picking the Trojans in their final game ahead of the playoff poll is what they’ve had to endure over these last two weeks along with the fact Utah moved the ball up and down the field on USC last time around. Will Alex Grinch’s defense have an answer in the rematch? No team nationally faces more pressure than USC in this spot, but I like the Trojans to handle their business and clinch a berth in the playoff, leaving the rest of the weekend relatively drama-free. … USC 41, Utah 34.
ADAM TAYLOR MCKILLOP, FANDUEL: USC
Another USC projection, this one with the Trojans winning by one point:
Utah has the Pac-12’s No. 1 defense allowing 20 points per game and 317 yards per game — 6 points and 88 YPG better than Southern Cal. USC leads the country in turnover margin (+22), however, and the Trojans will need a few more big plays on defense this week if they’re going to hold off the Utes.
Expect another back-and-forth competitive contest with USC also playing for a spot in the College Football Playoff.
JACK CARLOUGH, BUFFALOES WIRE
ERIC BOLIN, RAZORBACKS WIRE
EVAN BREDESON, CORNHUSKERS WIRE
TONY COSOLO, BUFFALOES WIRE
ZACK PEARSON, TAR HEELS WIRE
BIG GAME BEN NIEWOEHNER, COLLEGE FOOTBALL NEWS
JEFF FEYERER, COLLEGE FOOTBALL NEWS
TYLER NETTUNO, LSU TIGERS WIRE
CAMI GRIFFIN, LONGHORNS WIRE
DAN HARRALSON, VOLS WIRE
PHIL HARRISON, BUCKEYES WIRE
JEREMY MAUSS, MWC WIRE
NICK SHEPKOWSKI, FIGHTING IRISH WIRE
JOE VITALE, UGA WIRE
KEVIN MCGUIRE, NITTANY LIONS WIRE
JOHNNY ROSENSTEIN, SPORTS BOOK WIRE
ZACHARY NEEL, DUCKS WIRE