Lincoln Riley enjoyed a lot of success as head coach of Oklahoma from 2017-2021. Baker Mayfield and Kyler Murray both won a Heisman Trophy and the Sooners had an overall record of 55-10 under Riley. In the big games, though Oklahoma would frequently come up short. Friday’s Pac-12 Championship Game between Utah and Riley’s new program, USC, created a sense of déjà vu.
Riley and the Trojans were routed, 47-24 by the Utes. Heisman favorite Caleb Williams was clearly hobbled but still made plays with his legs and threw three touchdown passes. USC’s defense, though, was not up to the task. The Trojans led 17-3 late in the second quarter but Utah scored a pair of touchdowns to tie the game at halftime.
Utah adds another one. This has been a disastrous second half for USC, who most likely played its way out of the CFP.pic.twitter.com/tNtatHwEV4
— The Comeback (@thecomeback) December 3, 2022
In and of itself, Utah winning the game, was not a huge surprise. The Utes defeated USC in the regular season, after all. The way this game unfolded, though, was surprising. After leading 17-3, USC was outscored 44-7.
Given how familiar this game looked when compared to Riley’s other poor big game showings in Oklahoma, he came under heavy fire.
Predictably, Stinkin' Lincoln Riley's no-tackling USC D has given up another 47 to Utah. It's Oklahoma all over again. All offense, embarrassing defense. What did the Trojans miss tonight, 30 tackles??? As an Oklahoma fan, I do not miss THIS.
— Skip Bayless (@RealSkipBayless) December 3, 2022
How many times did USC lose to Utah? pic.twitter.com/2h7umliwVo
— 🚨🤯BRENT IS BACK🚨🤯 (@BennieAndBuds) December 3, 2022
Ain’t nobody you can count on to lose the big games quite like Lincoln Riley. Sony Michel broke him.
— Lance (@SportsGuyLance) December 3, 2022
Let's hear more "Lincoln Riley is awesome" tweets. Got swept by Utah. Got blown out tonight. Never won anything of substance at Oklahoma.
— Dave Biddle (@davebiddle) December 3, 2022
Wait… a Lincoln Riley-coached team had a remarkable regular season but didn’t pull through when it mattered most?
News to me.
— Cal Day (@CalDayTV) December 3, 2022
Just another Lincoln Riley special. Get to a big game, & get embarrassed.
— Bank - (@Banksix) December 3, 2022
2022 usc = 2021 ou
Didn't play anyone
Exposed with decent opponents
It's Lincoln Riley
— Oculus Reparo (@PFlat2) December 3, 2022
This USC defense is statistically worse than all of those.
— Andy Staples (@Andy_Staples) December 3, 2022
Yeah, this looks like a Lincoln Riley game and a Lincoln Riley defense
— Isaac (@WorldofIsaac) December 3, 2022
Riley has enjoyed a highly productive first season at USC. The Trojans — who were 4-8 in 2021 — went 11-1 in the regular season and entered Friday’s game No. 4 in the College Football Playoff. This loss, though, will almost certainly eliminate USC from national championship contention. Given how poor Friday night went for USC and how familiar that is for Riley’s teams, the criticism he faces is fair.