Las Vegas • The 11th-ranked Utes will take on No. 4 USC tonight at Allegiant Stadium — with much more at stake compared to six weeks ago when Utah came from behind to beat USC, 43-42, at Rice-Eccles Stadium.
A Utah win will send it back to the Rose Bowl. A USC victory likely places it in the College Football Playoff. In that case, the Rose Bowl is expected to take the next-highest-ranked team Pac-12 team in the CFP rankings on Sunday, which is likely to be Washington, which finished the regular season at 10-2 and is currently ranked No. 12.
How to watch
Kickoff: 6 p.m., MT
TV: FOX | Jason Benetti, Brock Huard, Allison Williams
Radio: ESPN 700 AM in Salt Lake City (Bill Riley, Scott Mitchell, Stevenson Sylvester)
• There was quite a bit of bellyaching late Saturday night and into Sunday after Utah emerged from a three-time tiebreaker with Oregon, who it lost to, and Washington, who it never played. Whittingham tried to tone that talk down.
• Tuesday night’s College Football Playoff rankings release had USC at No. 4, indicating that if the Trojans win the Pac-12, they will be through to the CFP. The Pac-12 has not had a team make the four-team Playoff since Washington in 2016. Utah was ranked No. 11, but is likely to fall behind No. 12 Washington, and out of Rose Bowl contention, with a loss to USC.
• This week’s Utes mailbag led off with whether or not Cam Rising is 100% healthy, which is a matter of conjecture. Rising has been dealing with a left knee injury since the first USC game on Oct. 15, when he threw for 415 yards, ran for another 60, and accounted for five total touchdowns.
• Utah has not allowed more than 21 points in any of its last five games since allowing 42 to USC. The second half of that Oct. 15 has felt like a turning a point for defensive coordinator Morgan Scalley’s group.
• This week’s Tribute newsletter focuses on the CFP rankings, but more specifically what CFP selection committee chair Boo Corrigan had to say about Utah and Washington being at 11 and 12, respectively.
• Columnist Gordon Monson asks, can Cam Rising be a better quarterback than USC’s sophomore Heisman finalist, Caleb Williams? Rising won that matchup the first time around.
• Kyle Whittingham has built Utah into a consistent winner over 18 seasons, while it took all of one season for Lincoln Riley to rebuild USC. This Pac-12 championship game represents a clash of cultures.