In the semi-finals, Birmingham rolled past the New Orleans Breakers, dominating in a 31-17 victory. On the other hand, Philadelphia upset the New Jersey Generals – who were the favorites to win the whole thing.
The stage is set for the #USFL Championship game this weekend!
Take a look back at the five best plays from the semifinal round.
Now, the two will face off to see who is crowned champion in the 2022 season. Let’s take a look at the key factors, and what could decide the ultimate victor on Sunday.
Quarterbacks: Belonging On The Stage
Without a doubt, both of these quarterbacks are deserving of being in the position that they are. It’s been an excellent season for J’Mar Smith and Case Cookus, and they now have the opportunity to duel for a Championship.
On one hand, J’Mar Smith has been one of the USFL’s most intriguing signal callers. When he is in a rhythm, it’s nearly impossible to slow him down. Smith was sensational on Saturday, putting the team on his back to lead them to the Championship.
Birmingham needs Smith to be at the top of his game on Sunday. If he’s performing well, the team will follow suit. If he’s struggling, it will be difficult for Skip Holtz to keep his offense moving smoothly. With one game left, Smith might just need to have his best performance of the year.
"Let's go T-bone" @USFLStallions sealed the win in the classic T-Formation 💪
That being said, Case Cookus has been playing some of the best football we’ve seen recently. Cookus led the Stars to a 4-1 record in the second half of the year. Then, Cookus made multiple big time plays to put Philadelphia in a position to upset the Generals.
Cookus might just have the best throwing arm in the USFL. His accuracy rivals that of any quarterback, and there was no shortage of amazing passes on Saturday. Expect Cookus to make a major impact in the Championship. He’s the hottest player in the USFL right now.
This is something Birmingham has done all year long: play excellent defense. Week in and week out, the Stallions have consistently shut down opposing offenses, which has put the team in a position to win almost every game. This should be no different on Sunday.
Meanwhile, Philadelphia’s defensive unit has seen some ups and downs throughout the year. During the second half of the year, the group has made improvements. But, what they accomplished on Saturday was ridiculous. They effectively shut down New Jersey’s offense – keeping them off the scoreboard when it mattered most.
If Bart Andrus’ defense can recapture what they did against New Jersey, that will put Philadelphia in a fantastic position to potentially make an upset. They played with such intensity and passion on Saturday, which willed the team to victory. Guys like Ahmad Dixon and Channing Stribling were hitting hard all day long, and it wore the Generals down. Can they do that again? We’ll have to wait and see.
Players To Watch
Bo Scarbrough: Bo Scarbrough has been contained quite well over the past few weeks. He hasn’t had those special performances that he did in weeks five and six. Keep an eye on Bo this Sunday – if he has a big game, it’s going to be hard to beat Birmingham.
Scooby Wright III: The “Sharkdawg” has been a consistent force all year for Birmingham’s defense. That being said, DeMarquis Gates has been the one making the big plays as of late. But, this is the Championship. You better believe Scooby will be amped up. He’s going to have a big day, you can bet on that.
Darnell Holland: Matt Colburn went down with an injury this past weekend, so it’s hard seeing him being back on the field for the Championship. Philadelphia is going to need Darnell Holland to be at the top of his game. Holland has shown signs of life throughout the year – now, he needs to have the breakout game Andrus has been waiting for.
Channing Stribling: This is a wild card here. Stribling got injured on Saturday as well – and we don’t know what his status will be quite yet. But, if he is healthy and ready to go, look out. Stribling has arguably been the best cornerback this season, and will give J’Mar Smith fits if he’s on the field this Sunday.
There is no doubt about it: The USFL’s inaugural Championship is going to be an entertaining affair. Both teams possess so much talent, which means that we will see plenty of excellent football on Sunday.
TWO punt return touchdowns and the FIRST kick return touchdown of the season… all in one day 😳🔥
While Birmingham is likely the favorite, Philadelphia is a team that has been slept on this season. Now, they’re in the Championship. As we love to say: anything is possible in spring football. It’s going to be a show this weekend, so make sure to grab your popcorn and follow along closely.
Who do you think will win the USFL’s 2022 Championship? Are you rooting for Birmingham or Philadelphia? Let us know down in the comments below, or join the conversation on Discord!