Utah vs USC Odds, Pac-12 Championship Game Picks & Predictions
Dan Kilbridge | 5 mins
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For those who haven’t been paying attention the past half-decade, let’s get one thing straight – the road to the Pac-12 championship officially goes through Salt Lake City.
Utah is back in the conference title game for the fourth time in five years, overcoming losses to UCLA and Oregon to set up a rematch with No. 4 USC. And while the Utes have dominated the landscape recently, the Trojans have the far loftier goals entering Friday’s title tilt at Allegiant Stadium in Las Vegas.
USC’s 43-42 loss at Utah was the lone blemish on the Trojans’ schedule. They capped an 11-1 regular season with impressive back-to-back wins at UCLA and home against Notre Dame, and now it’s all there for the taking with USC attempting to reach the CFP for the first time.
That’s thanks in large part to USC quarterback Caleb Williams, the overwhelming Heisman Trophy favorite with -2500 odds to take the season-long honor. He’s been one of the biggest stories in college football betting all year and now has a chance to prove it again under the brightest of lights.
We’re expecting big-time fireworks for a massive matchup in Sin City, where the CFP will start to take shape as the Utes and Trojans kick off conference championship week in primetime.
Utah vs. USC Moneyline Pick
It’s been a long time since the Trojans have played a game of this magnitude. They’ve only played in two New Year’s Six games since 2009. And while this is the third title game appearance over the past five seasons, it’s the first time USC could get into the CFP with a victory.
That first game back in mid-October was one of the wildest of the year, with the Utes scoring and converting a two-point conversion with less than a minute to play for the one-point victory. That game featured 1,118 yards of total offense as the two teams combined for a ridiculous 805 passing yards.
Utah has far more big-game experience in recent years, but it hasn’t always worked out. The Utes lost two of three prior title games and were very fortunate to get back to this spot – Oregon beat Utah two weeks ago and would have made it to Las Vegas if not for a stunning fourth-quarter collapse in Saturday’s upset loss to Oregon State.
USC has looked like the real deal all year and the offense continues to gain steam, with an average of 44.8 points scored over the last six games. Williams has been transcendent in crunch time, making huge play after huge play as the Trojans pulled out close wins over the likes of Arizona, Cal and UCLA before a more thorough effort against Notre Dame last week.
The Trojans came up one point short the first time around, but we expect them to finish the job and secure a postseason bid with another massive victory.
Utah vs. USC Spread Pick
Oddsmakers on sports betting apps have this as a very close matchup. That’s not surprising given the back-and-forth thriller we saw from these two teams last month, in which the Utes were -3.5 favorites. That line has since flipped after the Trojans covered in the initial meeting.
Looking at the numbers, Utah burned USC’s secondary all night with 424 passing yards. Williams threw for 381 and still didn’t have enough to carry the Trojans to the finish line. But we’re more interested in what USC accomplished on the ground in that matchup, averaging 6.5 yards per carry. The Trojans should be able to further exploit that on Friday night, and they’ve been strong on the ground when they commit to the run.
USC also would have out-gained Utah if not for 12 flags for a total of 93 penalty yards. They weren’t the first team to catch a lot of laundry in Utah this year, and they’ve since cleaned it up. Utah had the intangibles going six weeks ago, but that’s since flipped and USC has all the momentum and motivation at a neutral site. We expect the Trojans to cover the college football betting line of -3 on top of the outright win to get to the CFP.
Utah vs. USC Over/Under Best Bet
The total is holding strong in the high 60s on betting sites after the regular-season shootout, when the Utes and Trojans combined for 85 points. These teams have since evolved and will know how to scheme a few things differently. And we haven’t seen many shootouts in recent Pac-12 title games.
We haven’t seen a total go over 67 since the first Pac-12 championship back in 2011, when Oregon beat UCLA 49-31. The total in each of the last six title games has gone under 60. We wouldn’t be surprised to see that trend continue.
Explosive as these offenses are, this is the second meeting and we expect both teams will be more willing to run in the rematch. It’s a new environment for players with all sorts of distractions, and it could look quite a bit different than the instant classic at Rice Eccles Stadium. We like Under 67 for our college football picks in the Pac-12 championship game.