The Utah offense did not skip a beat, and even in the snow, and on the road in Boulder, CO, the team was able to defeat the Colorado University Buffaloes, 30-7.
The Utes came into this game, for what seems to be the tenth time this season, with a lot to prove, and backs against the wall. With both Tyler Huntley and Zack Moss still on the sideline, Jason Shelley and Armand Shyne got the nod once again as the team’s starting tandem. The two did not disappoint on the stat sheet, with Shelley going 11-23, and Shyne running for 59 yards. Shyne’s dip in productivity, while partly due to the snow, was also because of the shared workload between him and T.J. Green, who tallied 43 yards on the day.
The Utes were able to find consistency in the second half, but that was not after a lackluster performance in the first. Colorado’s only scoring drive of the game came in the first, and off of an ejection penalty called against Chase Hansen, and a pass interference on the very next play, the Buffaloes were able to capitalize and headed into the second with a one-score lead. Utah was able to turn things around on both sides of the ball and rattled off 30 straight points to close the game out.
Utah’s defense was ready for the snow from the moment the game began. Maxs Tupai was dominant on the left edge all game long and tormented Colorado’s two quarterbacks used, Steven Montez and Sam Noyer. He also led the team in tackles for loss, with 3.5. The Utah defense had two interceptions on the day, while not giving one up of their own for the second consecutive game. BYU transfer Francis Bernard was shoved into the starting role after Hansen’s ejection but was up to the task.
“I didn’t expect [to play],” Bernard said. ” As soon as it happened, I was ready to go. It was fun to get out there and play against them.”
The Utah offense, while getting off to a slow start, also turned it on as the game progressed. Last week against Oregon, the team went 2-6 on red zone chances but converted on all four trips today. Armand Shyne rushed for a score, Jason Shelley threw two beautiful passes to connect for two, and Jaylen Dixon caught a 61-yard bomb to complete the scoring. Matt Gay went 3-4 on the day, with a fourth-quarter miss off a slip late in the game.
This game had its share of implications in the Pac-12 South, where the Utes are fighting for a chance to end atop the division for the first time since joining the conference. With this win, the team guarantees a share of the championship, and any loss by Arizona State will clinch a championship for a Utah team that has faced years of frustrating campaigns.
Head Coach Kyle Whittingham spoke to this frustration in the post-game press conference.
“I don’t think I’ve ever been around a team that handles adversity better than these guys,” the 14-year coaching veteran said. “These guys have a lot of guts and a lot of toughness.”
The Utes’ play in the Pac-12 has come to an end this week with a resounding victory, and the fate of the South is out of their hands, but the team can, and does, take comfort in the fact that they did what they had to do to secure their place in the standings. The conference season is over but next week, the team looks to continue their dominance over the team down south.