Utah Football Rolls Over Stanford on Senior Night


Jack Gambassi

University of Utah wide receiver Devaughn Vele (#17) high points a pass from quarterback Cam Rising (#7) in the final home game of the 2022 season against Stanford on Saturday, Nov. 11, 2022 at Rice-Eccles Stadium in Salt Lake City. (Photo by Jack Gambassi | The Daily Utah Chronicle)

By Ethan Pearce and Sean Overton


The University of Utah football team grabbed a dominant win over Stanford late Saturday evening to move them one step closer to a Pac-12 Title defense. Utah dominated most of the game, finishing with 279 yards on the ground, 180 of those courtesy of Tavion Thomas.


Utah got the ball first and stalled out early with Micah Bernard getting stuffed on third down. Rather than punting the ball away, the Utes went for a tricky fake punt, picking up the first down and more — some early game fireworks courtesy of head coach Kyle Whittingham.

Both offenses struggled early. Utah’s first drive eventually stalled into a punt, as did their second drive after a holding penalty on first down. 

Utah continuously tried to establish the run game in the first quarter, but Stanford did a good job mitigating the damage. Utah gashed the Cardinal on the ground last season, but that wasn’t the story of the game this time around.

Tanner McKee found Elijah Higgins on a deep pass to set Stanford up in the red zone near the end of the first quarter. McKee punched it into the end zone to put the Cardinal up 7-0. 

Utah’s offense led the team right down the field for the score immediately after going down by a touchdown. Cameron Rising hit a gorgeous throw to Devaughn Vele in the corner of the end zone to tie the game up.

Midway through the first half, the video board showed the final result of the Oregon-Washington game — a Ducks loss. The crowd cheered, knowing that helps the Utes in their quest to repeat as Pac-12 Champions. They’ll still have to win next week in Eugene, but that’s looking a lot more doable with an apparent injury to Oregon quarterback Bo Nix.

Utah’s next drive was another beauty, including a conversion on fourth-and-eight to set the Utes up inside of the five. Again, Rising found Vele for a beautiful catch. Thomas punched it in for the score to put the Utes up 14-7.

The defense tightened up and didn’t allow the Cardinal to get much of anything going. When the offense got the ball back, they drove down the field and had the Utes in a position to score, which would have made it 21-7. Unfortunately, Rising targeted Dalton Kincaid in the end zone, the pass was bobbled and caught by the defender for an interception. That ended the half with the score still at 14-7.

Stanford threatened to move the ball at the start of the third quarter, but the Utah defense quickly found their footing and snuffed out the drive. With the ball back, Rising made multiple plays to lead the Utes on a scoring drive. He picked up a first down with his legs, then made a nice pass to Thomas Yassmin for the touchdown to make it 21-7. 

Utah again stopped the Cardinal quickly, then punched right down the field for another score. Bernard took it in on a nice cutback towards the middle of the field off a pass from Rising. 28-7 was the score, and with the way the Utah defense had been shutting down Stanford since the first quarter, it was tough to see a way for the Cardinal to come back from that deficit. 

Another stop and another solid drive led the Utes to another score. Freshman quarterback Nate Johnson entered the game multiple times, ripping off a 21 yard run and then throwing a touchdown pass to Logan Kendall. Johnson has appeared in two games this year, which means he can play in two more before he’s forced to give up his redshirt season. Utah has two regular season games left, plus a potential Pac-12 Championship game and a bowl game.

The rest of the game was a lot of wasting the clock as the Utes possessed a 28-point lead. 

Thomas scored on a 36-yard rush to make it 42-7, and that was all she wrote. That was the final score as Utah finished the season undefeated at home.

“I am proud of our guys,” said Whittingham. “Great to send the seniors … out the right way.”


The Utes got off to a slow start, with sloppy possessions and penalties. Stanford held the lead until early in the second quarter when Utah tied it up. The Utes would take the lead later in the quarter, a reassuring sign after a poor quarter. 

This game saw a fake punt and multiple fourth down attempts from the Utes, not typically what we see from Whittingham and offensive coordinator Andy Ludwig. Utah’s offense is continually finding new ways to expose opposing defenses. 

Utah kept their foot on the gas, scoring six unanswered touchdowns as Stanford didn’t find the end zone again after their first. With this win, Utah closed out their home season with a perfect 6-0 at Rice-Eccles for their second straight season. 

Thomas recorded two touchdowns for Utah, totaling 180 yards on 22 attempts. The Utes averaged 7.8 yards per rush, far above Stanford’s 0.8.

The Utes will travel to Eugene next week, taking on Oregon. The Ducks suffered their first conference loss of the season against Washington and the Pac-12 is still up for grabs.  

Oregon will be a crucial matchup for the Utes, with a loss almost certainly ending their hopes of reaching the Pac-12 Championship game. 

Up Next

Utah then heads up to Oregon for a critical matchup. There are many scenarios still in play for who will end up representing the conference in Vegas, but Utah just needs to handle their own business, win these last two games, and punch their ticket to the Pac-12 Championship Game.

“No matter what happens, we’ve gotta win,” said Whittingham.


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