Every Pac-12 school represented on NFL Championship Sunday
And then there were four.
With NFL Conference Championships around the corner, four teams remain in the hunt for the Lombardi Trophy. And while they all vary in terms strengths and styles of play, they all have one thing in common: they have at least one player from the Pac-12 Conference.
Talanoa Hufanga, a beloved USC Trojan, made one of the most consequential plays of the NFL season when he returned a blocked punt for a fourth-quarter, game-tying touchdown in the 49ers win over the top-seeded Packers in the NFC Wild Card round.
— USC Football (@USC_FB) January 23, 2022
Fellow Pac-12 products Arik Armstead (Oregon) and Brandon Aiyuk (Arizona State) played pivotal roles for the 49ers. All will be available for San Francisco head coach Kyle Shanahan when the 49ers head to Inglewood to take on Los Angeles Rams in the NFC Championship Game on Sunday at 3:30 p.m. PT.
Speaking of the Rams, Los Angeles will be playing on championship weekend thanks to the right leg of Matt Gay. The former Utah Ute sent the Rams to victory in the Divisional Round with a last-second 30-yard field goal to down the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
MATT GAY FOR THE WIN! pic.twitter.com/AQBU54oVhD
— Los Angeles Rams (@RamsNFL) January 23, 2022
Another special teams star, punter Johnny Hekker, a four-time Pro-Bowler out of Oregon State, will be on hand for the Rams this Sunday.
Los Angeles brought 37-year-old Eric Weddle out of retirement for the Divisional Round. The former Utah Ute played 60 snaps in the win and will be available for head coach Sean McVay in the Rams vs. San Francisco.
— Los Angeles Rams (@RamsNFL) January 18, 2022
The reigning AFC Champions, the Kansas City Chiefs, only have one Pac-12 product on their active roster, Oregon’s Kyle Long, but he has quite the important job, protecting all-world quarterback Patrick Mahomes. Long will be helping the Chiefs try to advance to their third straight Super Bowl.
— KyleLong.ETH (@Ky1eLong) December 29, 2021
Standing in the Chiefs way are the upstart Cincinnati Bengals.
If the Bengals hope to pull off the upset, they'll need their defenders to contain the Kansas City's vaunted offense. Thankfully, they can turn to cornerback Chidobe Awuzie.
Selected by Dallas in the second round of the 2017 draft, the former Colorado Buffalo signed a three-year, $21.8 million contract with the Bengals ahead of the 2021 season.
That contract appears to be paying dividends, as Awuzie played 98% of defensive snaps and recorded five tackles in Cincinnati’s win over top-seeded Tennessee last Saturday.
The Bengals had two of the best free agent signings last season with Trey Hendrickson and Chidobe Awuzie 👀@PFF_Sam gives revisits the best and worst free agent signings from last year ⬇️https://t.co/ae1g2AUtlD
— PFF (@PFF) January 26, 2022
Catch all these stars and more on Sunday (Jan. 30) when NFL Championship weekend gets underway. And be sure to follow all things Pac-12 football, at Pac-12.com/pac-12-football-central.
Active: CB Chidobe Awuzie (Colorado), DT Josh Tupou (Colorado), WR Trenton Irwin (Stanford), S Michael Thomas (Stanford), TE Drew Sample (Washington)
Injured/Practice/COVID: DT Renell Wren (Arizona State), OL Xavier Su’a-Filo (UCLA), QB Jake Browning (Washington)
KANSAS CITY CHIEFS
Active: OL Kyle Long (Oregon)
Injured/Practice/COVID: OT Mike Remmers (Oregon State)
LOS ANGELES RAMS
Active: LB Justin Hollins (Oregon), P Johnny Hekker (Oregon State), S Terrell Burgess (Utah), K Matt Gay (Utah), DL Greg Gaines (Washington), S Taylor Rapp (Washington), OL Coleman Shelton (Washington), S Eric Weddle (Utah)
Injured/Practice/COVID: TE Johnny Mundt (Oregon), WR Robert Woods (USC)
SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS
Active: LB Demetrius Flannigan-Fowles (Arizona), WR Brandon Aiyuk (Arizona State), C Alex Mack (California), DL Arik Armstead (Oregon), DB Deommodore Lenoir (Oregon), LB Curtis Robinson (Stanford), OL Jake Brendel (UCLA), S Talanoa Hufanga (USC), P Mitch Wishnowsky (Utah), WR River Cracraft (Washington State)
Injured/Practice/COVID: WR Connor Wedington (Stanford)