In front of the 11th-biggest crowd in Rice Eccles Stadium history, the Utah football team rolled once again, defeating the USC Trojans, 41-28.
The Homecoming win brings the team to a 14-13-1 record all-time in homecoming games against Pac-12 teams and puts them on top of what was a very fortunate week for the program. With a Colorado and Oregon loss, the Utes are propelled into the conversation for the best team in the Pac-12. They showed that they deserve the talk tonight, against a reeling USC team.
Tyler Huntley was electric all night long, totaling 341 passing yards along with 57 rushing yards. The Utes utilized his dual-threat abilities early on in the contest, as USC’s front seven stopped Zack Moss throughout the first quarter. Moss had 136 yards on the day.
The Utes, as they have done in multiple games this year, got off to a sloppy start. USC scored 14 points in the first quarter alone, one off of a fumble by Huntley, and the other by a wonderful play by USC’s wideout, Michael Pittman, accompanied by some surprisingly bad coverage by the Utah secondary.
The Trojans did a good job of forcing mistakes early on. The Utes’ first three drives before their first score ended in a punt, a turnover on downs and a fumble-recovery-touchdown. For a while, it looked as though USC was going to run the show, but the Utes were able to clean up their play, get out of their own way and rattle off 34 unanswered points before allowing USC two more scores in the fourth quarter.
This game marks the third consecutive game — the first time in school history — that the Utes scored more than 40 points against Pac-12 teams. Even though the first of that triplet was in a loss to Washington State, this Utah team, on both sides of the ball, has been rolling as of late. Wide receiver Britain Covey, who had a night of his own, commented on the new-look Utah offense and how Tyler Huntley has looked in its driver seat.
“Confidence in himself,” said Covey of Huntley’s amazing play in the past three games. “The coaching staff has done a good job of putting him in comfortable situations.”
That comfort has shown, as Huntley threw for four touchdowns on the day, and ran for one of his own. His four throws were to Covey, Demari Simpkins, and two newcomers to the scoresheet — Jake Jackson and Solomon Enis, who both notched their first career touchdowns tonight.
The game also marks the second consecutive game in which the other team made switches at quarterback. While both Arizona’s head coach and USC’s Clay Helton attributed both of these switches to injuries, there is something to be said about how dominant Utah’s defense has been in their three-game run. USC only scored twice on their drives into the Utah redzone. The other two, again, were off of Utah’s mistakes. The Trojans also went 3-of-14 in third-down attempts, which means that the defense was forcing punts throughout the entirety of the game. USC was 0-for-10 when they converted their first third-down opportunity.
This game was one of the more complete games out of this Utah team that I’ve seen all season. Utah now finds themselves in the driver’s seat of not only the Southern Division but maybe even the entire Pac-12.
They will look to continue their role of dominance next week as the team travels to the Rose Bowl to face the 2-5 UCLA Bruins, who are also coming off a thrilling win against Arizona.