College Football Conference Championship Friday Preview
The regular season of the 2022 college football season has zoomed on by and now we head into conference championship weekend. The Conference USA and Pac-12 Championships go down on Friday evening. Let's take a look at those two matchups before going through the other eight games on Saturday.
Conference USA Championship
Matchup: North Texas (7-5) vs. UTSA (10-2)
Day/Time: Friday, December 2, 7:30 p.m. ET
Spread: UTSA -8.5
After clinching an undefeated conference record last week with a win over UTEP, UTSA finds themselves nationally ranked for the second time in program history. They come into the Conference USA Championship trying to avoid the same fate as last season, when their first ever ranking in the AP Poll was halted by North Texas in a November matchup. The Roadrunners had won their first 11 games of the season before getting blown out by their rivals. Now they get the chance to get revenge in each team's final season in the conference - both programs are joining the American Athletic Conference next year. The Roadrunners beat the Mean Green 31-27 in their October 22 matchup and the rematch is expected to draw a large crowd to the Alamodome. UTSA has continued to put up strong performances despite missing several pieces to injury, including starters in receiver De’Corian Clark, tackles Makai Hart and Demetris Allen, and running back Brendan Brady along with tight end Gavin Sharp. They will be leaning heavily on redshirt freshman running back Kevorian Barnes, who has averaged just 14.3 yards per game, but has averaged 86 yards rushing over his last six games with increased usage. A win and a win in their bowl game should see them finish the season ranked in the top 25. North Texas kept the game close in October and could definitely do the same here with the stakes higher.
Prediction: UTSA 27-24 (North Texas covers)
Matchup: Utah (9-3) vs. USC (11-1)
Day/Time: Friday, December 2, 8:00 p.m. ET
Spread: USC -2.5
In a rematch of one of the best games of the season, Utah travels to the Coliseum in Southern California to face USC. In their regular season matchup at Utah, junior quarterback Cameron Rising ran for a touchdown and the go-ahead two point conversion in the final minute to put the Utes past the Trojans, 43-42. The running game of Utah is what can help them pull off the upset, as Rising recorded 60 rushing yards to go along with 138 total from the team. The Trojans allowed 562 total yards in the matchup, which was the most they allowed all season. Meanwhile, on the defensive side for Utah, they haven't allowed more than 70 rushing yards in four of the last five games. USC is without Travis Dye, who suffered a lower left injury three weeks ago, after he lead the Trojans with 76 rush yards against Utah. All the pressure is on the home team in this one, as USC locks up their spot in the College Football Playoff with a win. Utah is just 1-3 on the road against teams that finished with a winning record, while USC's only loss was to them. The Trojans are led by sophomore quarterback Caleb Williams, the likely Heisman winner, who they will lean on to continue his dominance of the Pac-12. Williams recorded over 400 total yards from scrimmage and five touchdown passes in the first matchup. The game could certainly turn into a shootout once again, but this time USC holds on. The arm and legs of Williams will be too much for the Utes to handle and the Trojan defense will hold steady. Over the last month, they have been much better at getting stops.
Prediction: USC 34-31