It wasn’t supposed to end like this.

No, USC’s dream season was destined for something more.

The (soon-to-be) Heisman-winning quarterback was supposed to carry his team to a conference championship in his first year on campus. A program that has been down for so long was supposed to be reborn with its new head coach leading the surge.

But football doesn’t work that way. Results are imperfect and (at times) unfair. The sport doesn’t care about what narrative fits each situation best. The games are played, the results are tallied and things trudge forward.

Instead of gliding into a Heisman win, Caleb Williams spent most of the Pac-12 Championship limping around the field. He still dazzled on occasion, especially early on. When his knee limited his mobility, however, USC fell apart—slowly at first and then violently at the end.

And the Trojans’ defense? In a word, yikes.

A team that has thrived off opportune turnovers this season gave up yards and points in chunks. Tackling, at times, seemed almost optional.

A strong start gave way for a blowout, and it wasn’t the one most we were expecting. Utah clobbered USC 47-24, all but ending the Trojans’ stranglehold on the fourth and final playoff spot.