Utah Football Survives the Pac-12 Gauntlet, Advances to Second Consecutive Championship

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Jack Gambassi

University of Utah quarterback Cam Rising (#7) during the NCAA football game against SDSU on Sept. 17, 2022, at Rice-Eccles Stadium in Salt Lake City. (Photo by Jack Gambassi | The Daily Utah Chronicle)

By Sean Overton, Sports Writer

 

With Utah’s Pac-12 Championship hopes primarily out of their hands, the team traveled to Boulder to take on Colorado. “Mathematically, we still have a pathway to the championship,” Utah head coach Kyle Whittingham told Deseret News. “But all we can worry about is our part of that equation.”

The Buffs finished their season at 1-11, with their sole win a 20-13 OT win against Cal. A massive victory wasn’t exactly unexpected for the Utes, but the team may have exceeded even their own expectations.

Utah scored 42 in the first half, with 28 points coming in the second quarter. The Utes not only accomplished this incredible feat, but they also kept Colorado from scoring in the entire first half.

This might have been the last game of the season for the team, as well as the last game for many players before they declare for the NFL Draft. The team certainly played like it would be their last, with every single player giving it their all.

Cam Rising was 17-19 with 234 yards and 3 touchdowns. All three of Rising’s touchdowns came in the second quarter. Utah understandably rested the starters for the second half, but still held even with Colorado.

Backup quarterback Bryson Barnes came in at the half and went 4/5 for 45 yards, 1 touchdown and 1 interception.

With many of Utah’s better offensive players hinting towards the NFL Draft, Ja’Quinden Jackson offers Utah fans an opportunistic future. Jackson had 10 carries for 117 yards and 3 touchdowns, including a run that found the endzone from 66 yards out.

The Buffaloes got the first score of the second half, which Utah responded to with two of their own. Colorado got one more at the end of the third quarter, with both teams finding the endzone twice in the quarter.

The teams traded touchdowns again in the fourth quarter, and the teams both found the endzone three times throughout the second half. Utah took the comfortable 63-21 win, and were left waiting for their fate to be decided.

Utah fans were never really concerned with this game, but with the other games that their Pac-12 Championship chances relied on. Oregon State defeated Oregon and UCLA defeated Cal, keeping Utah’s postseason hopes alive.

The Utes needed Washington to defeat Washington State to push it into a three-team tie that would push Utah into the second spot in the Pac-12.

Everything fell into place for the Utes, and the season that seemed to be over stayed alive. Washington defeated Washington State 51-33 and Utah’s dreams came true as they advanced to the Pac-12 Championship for the second season in a row, and just the second time in program history.

Utah will face USC in the Pac-12 Championship on Dec. 2, the second time these teams face off this season. Their first matchup was a thrilling 43-42 victory for Utah, and the Utes will look to repeat the victory and advance to their second consecutive Rose Bowl.

 

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