With the college football season winding down, the 2022 conference championship week is finally here. Some teams have more than a conference title at stake, so whatever happens, it can seriously affect the future of a program. With the No. 4 USC Trojans facing the No. 11 Utah Utes on Friday for the Pac-12 trophy, we’re going to dive into some USC football bold predictions.
The Trojans are coming off a crucial 38-27 victory over the Notre Dame Fighting Irish. They are now 11-1 and, most importantly, cracked the College Football Playoff top four. A win on Friday would mean a spot in the semifinal, so USC will be under a lot of pressure.
The Utes had its ups and downs this season. The team finished the year strong with a 9-3 record, including giving USC its only loss in 2022 on a 43-42 thriller in Salt Lake City. Utah is still in contention for a New Year’s Six bowl bid, so a conference title could punch its ticket to that goal.
A conference championship game is always a must-see event. Considering it is from a loaded Pac-12, this game could go down as one of the best in recent memory. With that being said, here are some bold college football predictions for USC’s Pac-12 Championship Game against Utah on Friday.
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3. USC’s defense forces at least three turnovers
While USC’s offense has been a bright spot this season, the defense is not exactly meeting the same standards. The Trojans are allowing 405.2 yards of offense per game, barely placing them in the top 100 in the nation. They are behind teams that struggled this year such as Miami (FL) and Texas A&M.
The defense was actually a reason why USC was out of the top four for so long. CFP rankings chair Boo Corrigan said via ESPN that the committee was looking for more dominant wins and a stronger showing by the defense following USC’s 48-45 victory over the UCLA Bruins.
On Friday, the Trojans will have a tough challenge. The Utes have the No. 20 offense in the country, producing 467.7 yards per contest.
However, USC does have something in its favor: turnovers. The team has forced 27 turnovers this season with 19 interceptions and eight fumble recoveries. It places the Trojans No. 4 in FBS in turnovers gained. Additionally, they are the top team in the nation in turnover margin with 23, while no other team has a margin higher than 14.
Because of that, the bold prediction is that the defense will step up. Even if it might not be able to contain Cameron Rising as much as possible, the Trojans could make timely plays by forcing at least three turnovers in the game.
2. Caleb Williams backs up Heisman hype with 400+ all-purpose yards, 4+ TDs
Perhaps the biggest reason for USC’s success in 2022 has been the addition of Caleb Williams. A transfer from Oklahoma, the quarterback has emerged as one of the best players in college football and could lead the Trojans back to glory.
So far, Williams has completed 65.8 percent of his pass attempts for 3,712 yards and 34 touchdowns against only three interceptions. He has also added 351 yards on the ground on 97 carries, scoring 10 times.
Thanks to his elite display, USC has the fifth-best offense in the country with 506.6 yards per game.
That has helped Williams’ case for the Heisman Trophy. FanDuel lists him as the current frontrunner for the award with odds of -3000, ahead of fellow CFP-hopeful quarterbacks TCU’s Max Duggan and Georgia’s Stetson Bennett.
With the Pac-12 title at stake, as well as his Heisman chances, the bold prediction is that Williams will go off to show he deserves both. Fans can expect one of the best individual performances in the 2022 college football season, practically giving him a bigger edge for the award. It would not be a surprise if he produces 400-plus all-purpose yards and four touchdowns, whether they are through the air or the ground.
1. Trojans win, punch ticket to College Football Playoff
At the end of the day, USC has bigger reasons to win the Pac-12, including Williams’ pursuit for the Heisman.
According to FanDuel, the Trojans are the favorites to win the game. However, the spread is only -2.5. That means it will likely be a very tough matchup and probably a high-scoring one. Every possession should count, and it would not be a surprise if it goes down to the final minutes.
All things considered, the bold prediction is that the Trojans will win in a thrilling fashion. At most, it will be a 10-point game but it should be a one-possession game for most of the day.
This means that USC should win the Pac-12. Most importantly, this basically guarantees the Trojans in the CFP. Whether it will be higher than No. 4 remains a question, but USC will do its part to continue its quest for the national championship.