LAS VEGAS (ABC4 Sports) – The Utes are back-to-back champs.
Cam Rising threw for 310 yards and 3 touchdowns, as the Utes roared past #4 USC 47-24 on Friday night to win the Pac-12 Championship.
Utah (10-3) is heading to the Rose Bowl for a second straight year. With Michigan and Ohio State both most likely destined for the College Football Playoffs, the Utes could face Penn State in Pasadena on January 2nd.
The Utes rolled up 533 yards of offense, with Ja’Quendin Jackson rushing for 105 yards and two touchdowns.
“It was a team effort,” said linebacker Karene Reid. “From the offense to the defense, we stuck with it. We believed in ourselves and that was the outcome.”
“We just believed in each other,” Jackson said. “We stayed together, we didn’t point finger and we made it happen.”
Heisman Trophy favorite Caleb Williams threw for 363 yards and three TDs for USC, but after racing out to a 17-3 lead, the Utes defense held the Trojans to just one first down in the second and third quarters. They sacked Williams five times, who injured his leg in the first quarter and clearly wasn’t the same after.
The Trojans looked as if they were going to run away with the game, taking a 17-3 lead early in the second quarter behind some stellar play by Williams.
He appeared to hurt his left knee or leg in the first quarter on a 59-yard run in which he took a big hit at the end, and he suffered a bad cut on the pinky finger of his throwing hand. He spent most of the game limping, and wasn’t the same after a sterling first quarter in which the Trojans outgained Utah in total yards 194-70, and Williams had both touchdown passes.
After USC failed to pick up a fourth-and-8 from Utah’s 37-yard line, the Utes scored two touchdowns in the final 3:55 of the first half, as Jackson scored on an 8-yard touchdown run, while Rising hit Jaylen Dixon for a 12-yard touchdown with seconds left in the half.
Suddenly, that 14-point lead was gone as the Utes tied the game at 17 at the half.
USC had no answer for how to slow down Utah, which outscored the Trojans 44-7 in overcoming that two-touchdown deficit. Rising hit Thomas Yassmin on a 60-yard touchdown, while Jackson added a 53-yard TD jaunt to seal the deal.
“We started off slow, but we rallied back,” said defensive back Clark Phillips III. “I’m just so proud of this team. I’m just so proud of this team. We’ve been through a lot in a matter of two years. I’m grateful and we got it again.”
A announced sellout crowd of 61,195 made this the largest for a neutral-site Pac-12 Championship. It beat the previous record of 58,476 fans. who watched Southern California-Stanford in Santa Clara, California, in 2015.