title=

Southern California wide receiver Brenden Rice, right, fends off Notre Dame cornerback Clarence Lewis during the second half of an NCAA college football game Saturday, Nov. 26, 2022, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)

AP

No. 12 Utah (9-3, No. 11 CFP) vs No. 4 Southern California (11-1, No. 4 CFP), Friday, 8 p.m. EST (FOX) in Las Vegas.

FANDUEL SPORTSBOOK COLLEGE LINE: USC by 2 1/2.

SERIES RECORD: USC leads 13-8.

WHAT’S AT STAKE?

USC heads into this game fourth in the College Football Playoff rankings, so all the Trojans need to do is win and they’re in. It would be the Pac-12 Conference’s first team in the postseason field since Washington in 2017. USC will only be a Pac-12 team for another year before leaving for the Big Ten Conference. Utah is going for its second consecutive conference title and Rose Bowl appearance.

KEY MATCHUP

Utah TE Dalton Kincaid vs USC’s secondary. Kincaid returns to his hometown of Las Vegas hoping to duplicate his monster performance from the first meeting. He caught 16 passes for 234 yards and a touchdown as the Utes handed USC its only loss. Kincaid was injured Saturday at Colorado, but is expected to play.

PLAYERS TO WATCH

Utah: CB Clark Phillips III. He leads the Pac-12 with six interceptions and is the first Ute since Robert Johnson in 2009 to pick off that many passes. Phillips, who also has five pass breakups, is dangerous when he gets the ball in his hands. He has returned four of his nine career interceptions for touchdowns.

USC: QB Caleb Williams. Who else? He’s the frontrunner to win the Heisman Trophy, with 44 touchdowns (passing and rushing) to just three interceptions. Williams was spectacular Saturday against Notre Dame, his 19-yard scramble immediately going viral and becoming the defining moment of his Heisman candidacy.

FACTS & FIGURES

This will be the second time these teams will have met in Las Vegas in a postseason game. They played on Christmas Day in 2001 in the Las Vegas Bowl, and Utah won 10-6. The Utes were in the Mountain West at the time. … Utah is responsible for the Trojans’ only defeat this season, winning 43-42 in Salt Lake City. Quarterback Cam Rising’s 1-yard sneak and 2-point run with 48 seconds left gave the Utes the victory. … USC first-year coach Lincoln Riley is trying to make his fourth CFP appearance. He took Oklahoma to the postseason from 2017-19. … These teams would not have been able to meet in the championship game in past years because both were in the South Division. The Pac-12 eliminated divisions this season and went with the top two teams for the title game. … Utah is playing in its fourth Pac-12 Championship in five years. The Utes’ 38-10 victory over Oregon last year was their first victory in the game. … The Trojans also are in their fourth title game, with their other appearances in 2015, 2017 and 2020. Their only victory was in 31-28 over Stanford in 2017.

___

AP college football: https://apnews.com/hub/college-football and https://twitter.com/ap_top25. Sign up for the AP’s college football newsletter: https://tinyurl.com/mrxhe6f2