Lincoln Riley Dec 2, 2022; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Southern California Trojans head coach Lincoln Riley leaves following the loss against the Utah Utes in the PAC-12 Football Championship at Allegiant Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

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.

In the second half, the Utes scored touchdowns of 57, 60, 53, and 23 yards, completely icing the game.

USC’s offense, meanwhile, couldn’t keep up. The Trojans scored only one second-half touchdown and turned the ball over, ending a potential chance to get back into the game.

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.

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.

About Michael Dixon

About Michael:
-- Writer/editor for and
-- Bay Area born and raised, currently living in the Indianapolis area.
-- Twitter:
@mfdixon1985 (personal).
@michaeldixonsports (work).
-- Email:
Send tips, corrections, comments and (respectful) disagreements to that email. Do the same with pizza recommendations, taco recommendations and Seinfeld quotes.