The USFL will reach the conclusion of its second season Saturday with the league championship game. The first edition of the new incarnation of the USFL Championship Game was a thriller between the Birmingham Stallions and the Philadelphia Stars, resulting in Birmingham taking home the title.
The Stallions are going for a defense of their championship this weekend, facing the Pittsburgh Maulers in a rematch of their Week 4 clash (Birmingham won 24-20). Birmingham (9-2) is the favorite to beat Pittsburgh (5-6) for the championship and repeat as league champions, but the Maulers aren't expected to be a pushover (see USFL semifinal win over Michigan).
Want to know more about the USFL Championship Game? Here's how to watch and eight facts about the contest:
How to watch Maulers vs. Stallions
When: Saturday, July 1 | Time: 8 p.m. ET
Where: Tom Benson Hall of Fame Stadium (Canton, Ohio)
TV: NBC | Stream: fuboTV (try for free)
Follow: CBS Sports App
Odds: Stallions -7, O/U 46 (courtesy of Caesars Sportsbook)
1. The Stallions' general manager is 22. Want to know how the Stallions compiled the best record in the USFL over the past two years? The team is run by Zach Potter, who was promoted to general manager in August of last year after serving as the director of player personnel in 2022 (when the Stallions won their first championship).
Potter became the general manager of the Stallions at 21, right out of graduating college at Nebraska. He started working for The Spring League (which ended up becoming the USFL), part of how his journey to being discovered by Stallions head coach Skip Holtz -- and earning his position.
Potter is a win away from his second championship -- at 22.
2. Of the Maulers five wins this season, three came against the same team. The Maulers have five wins in 2023, including three against the Michigan Panthers. Pittsburgh beat Michigan twice in the regular season and in last week's USFL North Division championship game. The Maulers are 3-0 against the Panthers, and 2-6 against everyone else.
3. The Stallions QB entered the 2023 season as the backup. Alex McGough wasn't the starting quarterback for Birmingham when the regular season began, as he was the No. 2 signal-caller for J'Mar Smith, who led Birmingham to the league title last year. Smith went on injured reserve in Week 1 and McGough took over, completing 67.4% of his passes and throwing for a league-leading 20 touchdown passes (also leading the league with a 108.3 rating).
McGough is an MVP candidate and a main reason why the Stallions are back in the title game.
4. No. 1 offense vs. No. 1 defense. This is a classic "best offense vs. best defense" battle. The Stallions have the league's top offense, averaging 332.6 yards per game. The Maulers have the top defense, allowing just 257.4 yards per game.
5. The Maulers have never had a .500 record. Pittsburgh went just 1-9 last season, starting 0-4 and winning its lone game by one point. After having the worst record in the league last season, the Maulers went 4-6 in 2023 -- winning the North Division title. Pittsburgh started 0-2 and never got to .500 at any point this year.
If Pittsburgh wins the league title game, the Maulers will finish .500 -- and have a .500 record for the first time in franchise history.
6. The Stallions have the most wins since the new USFL began. Birmingham finished the 2022 season with a 9-1 record en route to the league title. The Stallions had the best record in 2022 and continued that trend in 2023, finishing 8-2. With a 20-3 record since the new USFL began, the Stallions have the most wins in the league and the best win percentage (.870).
Birmingham is the gold standard of the USFL right now.
7. Maulers head coach in his first season as professional HC. Ray Horton has played in the NFL and coached in the NFL, but has never been a head coach at the professional level. Horton had 19 interceptions and a Super Bowl championship in the NFL, following that up by serving as an assistant coach in the league for 24 years -- including stints as defensive coordinator for four different teams.
The Maulers are Horton's first professional head-coaching job and he took the franchise from the league's worst team to division champions and a spot in the league championship game in just his first year.
8. The USFL is coming back for Year 3. The USFL was the first spring football league to have a year two since the original USFL in the 1980s. The league will return for a third season in 2024, with teams playing in Canton as a hub site (Canton is taking season ticket deposits).
The Birmingham Stallions will also return to Birmingham, but it's unclear where other teams will play in their designated cities.