It wasn’t easy. And it wasn’t always pretty.

But after No. 13 Washington’s 51-33 victory over Washington State late Saturday night in the Apple Cup, No. 14 Utah will advance to the Pac-12 championship game for the second straight season next Friday against No. 6 USC at Allegiant Stadium in Las Vegas.

The Utes needed four things to happen this weekend to accomplish this feat, a week after falling at No. 9 Oregon. 

First, they needed UCLA to beat Cal, which happened Friday.

Then on Saturday, they needed Oregon State to upset Oregon, which happened as the Beavers rallied from a 31-10 deficit to beat the Ducks 38-34.

Meanwhile, Utah needed to take care of business in its regular-season finale. The Utes clobbered Colorado 63-21 Saturday in Boulder. 

The final piece of the puzzle fit into place late Saturday night, when the Huskies defeated the Cougars in Pullman. 

There’s a three-way tie between the Utes, the Ducks and the Huskies with identical 7-2 records in the Pac-12 standings. 

Utah won the three-way tiebreaker based off its strength of conference schedule,, and by virtue of that, the Utes are returning to the Pac-12 title game for the fourth time in five years. 

Last year, the Utes beat Oregon 38-10 in Las Vegas and earned their first Pac-12 crown and first Rose Bowl berth. 

Utah and USC meet Friday (6 p.m., MST, FOX). 

“We’ll be ready for it,” Ute quarterback Cam Rising said after the Colorado game about a possible rematch with the Trojans in Las Vegas. 

It will be a rematch of their game on Oct. 14 at Rice-Eccles Stadium, where Utah handed USC its first, and only, setback of the season.

A detailed breakdown of why the 3-team Pac-12 championship game tiebreaker worked out in Utah’s favor
Utah ‘finished it the right way’ with victory over Colorado

Rising scored a two-point conversion in the final minute to lead the Utes to a 43-42 victory. 

The Trojans (11-1, 8-1), led by quarterback and Heisman Trophy candidate Caleb Williams, are eyeing their first Pac-12 championship since 2017.

They also have their sights on the spot in the College Football Playoff. The Pac-12 hasn’t had a team in the CFP since 2016-17, when Washington made an appearance.

Saturday, USC defeated No. 15 Notre Dame 38-27. Williams completed 18 of 22 passes for 232 yards and a touchdown, and he ran nine times for 35 yards and three touchdowns against the Fighting Irish. 

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“If USC wins next week,” ESPN’s Kirk Herbstreit said during the broadcast, “they’re in the playoff.” 

After Saturday’s win over the Buffaloes, Whittingham became a big Washington fan. 

“Obviously, with what’s transpired, we’re in the hunt,” he said. “We’ll see what happens tonight. Three things have happened; four had to happen. One to go tonight. We’ll be rooting hard for the Huskies and see where it takes us. If the Huskies win, we’ll gear up for the game next weekend.” 

For the Utes (9-3, 7-2), the path to the Pac-12 championship wasn’t always easy or pretty, but they’ve managed to return to Las Vegas for the second consecutive season. 

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