Miller: Utes keep ridding themselves of old woes

Courtesy+by+Daniel+Kwon%2FThe+State+Press

Daniel Kwon

Courtesy by Daniel Kwon/The State Press

Courtesy by Daniel Kwon/The State Press
Courtesy by Daniel Kwon/The State Press

Sit back Utah fans and take it in.

Share some laughs, pop open a cold one and do some relaxing, because the Runnin’ Utes are making things easy. Utah rolled its fourth straight conference opponent Thursday night, taking down Arizona State 76-59. And it was never that close.

Remember when the Utah football team was in Tempe?

The Utes left the field in heartache after Andy Phillips missed a kick in overtime. And that suffering wasn’t an isolated incident.

Close and agonizing games were the norm throughout the football season and Utah fans were forced to live through each heart-stomping moment.

Sometimes the Utes came out on top (UCLA, USC and Stanford) and sometimes they didn’t (Washington State, ASU). And even when the game wasn’t all that close, there were still painful moments (Kaelin Clay’s infamous drop against Oregon and the second half against Arizona). It was an exhilarating season, yet at times quite stressful.

And after having gone through a roller coaster of emotions, all Utah fans got for a reward was the Las Vegas Bowl – or so they thought.

Utah fans meet your real prize for such a gut-wrenching football campaign: the Runnin’ Utes.

Delon Wright and company has seen your struggles, they know of your pain and they want to free you from the feelings of torment.

Arizona State was just the latest victim of what has become a Utah buzz saw. The Sun Devils never stood a chance Thursday as the Utes took a 17-point lead into the half, and extended it to 27 points in the second, before sitting their stars late.

With each game Utah is crossing off something off the list of things they struggled with a season ago.

– Can’t win the close game: Wichita State.

– Can’t hold on to a late lead: Everyone they’ve played in the last month.

– Can’t win on the road: Ask Arizona State about that.

Last season the Utes were an elite club at the Huntsman Center. Utah was only defeated twice in the confines of its home arena, and both of those losses were against top 10 teams and both were in overtime.

The road was a different story.

Utah lost its only out-of-conference road game at Boise State and then went 2-7 on the road in Pac-12 play – including a loss at lowly Washington State.

The Utes simply weren’t the same team away from Salt Lake. They showed Thursday that that isn’t the case anymore.

Utah travelled to ASU on the heels of three straight blowouts at the Huntsman to open up its conference season. The way the Utes picked apart the Sun Devils on offense and suffocated ASU on defense looked awfully similar to what Utah did to USC, UCLA and Colorado. The road woes, like so many other issues, appear to be a thing of the past.

And now, Utah fans are on an entirely different journey than what they went through watching the football squad. Instead of being on the edge of their seat and biting their nails for an entire game, fans can relax and enjoy the show.

And what a show it’s been. The Utes have run all they way into the top 10 and a matchup with No. 10 Arizona waits on Saturday. The Wildcats are the only team that Utah hasn’t beat since joining the Pac-12, providing the Utes with another opportunity to check one more thing off their list.

[email protected]

@millerjryan