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No. 6 Utah Clinches Second Straight Pac-12 South Title In Win Over CU

Utah Utes linebacker Francis Bernard (13) celebrates after tackling Colorado Buffaloes running back Alex Fontenot (8) for a loss during the second half of a NCAA football game at Rice-Eccles Stadium in Salt Lake City on Saturday, Nov. 30, 2019. (Colter Peterson, Deseret News)

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – For the second straight season, the Utah Utes are going to play for a Pac-12 Championship after clinching the South Division Title with a 45-15 win over Colorado.

It was a concerning start in the first quarter as the Buffaloes held a 7-0 lead. Utah had just 27 total yards of offense and Colorado racked up 91 yards in the first 15 minutes of play.

But, the No. 6 ranked team in the country changed the momentum when quarterback Tyler Huntley threw one of his two passing touchdowns to tight end Brant Kuithe for a 38-yard score. Utah went on to outscore the Buffs 45-8 in the final three quarters and held Colorado to 126 total yards of offense during that stretch.

“I am very appreciative of our fans,” Utah head coach Kyle Whittingham said. “There were a lot of people there to acknowledge our seniors when they came out of the tunnel. I think our seniors were very excited and grateful about that. We appreciate our fans for making that effort.”

The Utes honored 19 seniors in their final game at Rice-Eccles Stadium and they put on a show for the fans. Huntley completed 14 of his 17 pass attempts for 165 yards and two touchdowns. Kuithe caught three passes for 63 yards and two touchdowns through the air. Also, he ran the ball twice for 59 yards and another score. Last week against Arizona, he had two scores on the ground on the jet sweep.

Running back Zack Moss had to earn his yards as Colorado made it a point to stop the star back. The senior finished with 88 rushing yards on 20 carries and one touchdown.

Utah was holding a 24-7 lead near the end of the third quarter when Demari Simpkins returned a punt 66 yards for a touchdown. It was his first career punt return for a touchdown and the first one for Utah since 2016 when Boobie Hobbs returned a punt for a score against Colorado.

On the defensive side of the ball, Utah was as disruptive as usual. Linebacker Devin Lloyd led the team with 9 tackles, including 1.5 sacks. Bradlee Anae was able to record 1.5 sacks on the Buffs. The senior is now tied with Hunter Dimick with 29 sacks, the most in school history.

Mika Tafua also had 1.5 sacks and Viane Moala had a half-sack. Five players on the defensive side of the ball had 5 tackles or more.

The Utes finished the regular season with an 11-1 overall record and an 8-1 mark in Pac-12 play. They will face the Oregon Ducks at Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara, California for the Conference Championship. The game will be played on Friday at 6 p.m. and will be broadcast on ABC.

Oregon beat the Oregon State Beavers 24-10 to put their record at 10-2 and 8-1 in conference play.

The Crimson Corner podcast is the one-stop for all things University of Utah Athletics hosted by Utah insider Trevor Allen. Ute fans will find interviews with current players, coaches, and staff alongside expert analysis of every game, story and angle coming out of the University of Utah.

You can download and listen to the podcast, here.