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Utah Football’s 10 Best Wins During Pac-12 Era

The Utah Utes celebrate after defeating the USC Trojans in NCAA football in Salt Lake City on Saturday, Oct. 20, 2018. (Ravell Call, Deseret News)

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – Utah football has had a lot of big wins including come-from-behind victories and big upsets, Utah has sent a message to the Pac-12.

In honor of the 10-year anniversary of conference realignment where Utah accepted an invitation to the Pac-12, the Crimson Corner listed the 10 best wins for the Utes in the Pac-12 era.

KSLSports.com BYU insider and Cougar Tracks podcast host Mitch Harper joined the Crimson Corner for a cross podcast to dissect the last 10 years for both Utah and BYU.

Honorable Mentions

2015: Utah’s Wild Win Over BYU In Las Vegas Bowl

This game will go down as one of the most wild games in history of the Utah/BYU rivalry. Utah was basically gifted 35 points in the first quarter off of 5 BYU turnovers including two interceptions returned for touchdowns. After leading 35-0, BYU came back to score one touchdown in both the second and third quarters before scoring twice in the final period but the Utes held off the ferocious comeback with a 35-28 win.

Running back Joe Williams rushed for 91 yards and two touchdowns.

2019: Utes Come Back To Beat Washington In Seattle

On November 2, 2019, Utah football was ranked No. 9 in the country and was 7-1 entering their battle with the Washington Huskies in Seattle. After UW took a 14-3 lead early in the second quarter, the Utes scored 10 points before halftime to trail by one point at the break.

Early in the third quarter, Washington extended the lead to 21-13 when Jacob Eason threw a touchdown pass to Hunter Bryant. The momentum changed in favor of Utah when cornerback Jaylon Johnson picked off a pass from Eason and returned it 39-yards for a touchdown late in the third. Utah scored two more touchdowns in the fourth quarter to put them up 33-21 with less than five minutes left in the game. Washington scored for the final time with one minute left as the Utes prevailed with a 33-28 win.

Tyler Huntley passed for 284 yards and one touchdown. Zack Moss ran for 100 yards and one score.

10. 2018: Utah Stuns No. 14 Stanford In Palo Alto

On October 6, 2018, Utah was riding a two-game losing streak after falling to Washington and Washington State when they traveled to Palo Alto to face No. 14 Stanford who was 4-1.

Utah got off to a hot start with three unanswered touchdowns. Two came from running back Zack Moss and one was a 100-yard interception returned for a touchdown by Jaylon Johnson. Stanford stopped the bleeding slightly when Utah hit a field goal before the half to take a 24-7 lead into the locker room. The Cardinal trimmed the deficit to 27-21 with two touchdowns in the third quarter.

The fourth quarter belonged to Utah with two field goals by Matt Gay and a 57-yard touchdown catch by Samson Nacua. The Utes pulled off a 40-21 win over the Cardinal.

Moss ran for 160 yards and two touchdowns. Nacua hauled in two catches for 70 yards and one touchdown.

9. 2015: Utes’ Defense Steps Up To Beat Jared Goff, No. 23 Cal

ESPN College Gameday did their pregame show on campus leading up to this game with Cal ranked No. 23 and unbeaten with the Utes ranked No. 5 in the nation with a 5-0 record. Utah’s defense faced the future No. 1 overall pick in the 2016 NFL Draft in quarterback Jared Goff.

The Utes gave Goff fits throughout the game as he threw 4 of his 5 interceptions in the first half. Utah used their running game to get past the Golden Bears with Devontae Booker racking up 222 yards and 2 touchdowns.

Goff finished with 340 yards, 2 touchdowns and 5 interceptions as the Utes pulled out the 30-24 win to remain undefeated.

8. 2014: Sack Lake City Upsets No. 8 UCLA In Rose Bowl

On October, 4, 2014, Utah traveled to Pasadena, California to face the No. 8 UCLA Bruins who were 4-0 entering the game against Utah. The Utes started with two unanswered touchdowns and eventually took a 17-7 lead at the half. Both teams exchanged touchdowns in the third quarter with Utah up 24-14.

The Bruins scored first in the fourth quarter before Andy Phillips knocked in a field goal to put Utah up by six. UCLA took a one point lead late in the fourth quarter but a 29-yard field goal by Phillips with 34 seconds left gave Utah a 30-28 win.

Devontae Booker finished with 156 rushing yards and one touchdown. Utah’s defense sacked Brett Hundley 10 times, led by Nate Orchard with 4.

7. 2011: Utah Dominates BYU In Provo

It was the first time that the two rivals would face each other as non-conference foes. It looked like it was going to be a long night for the Cougars when quarterback Jake Heaps dropped the ball twice but the second time was in the end zone and Utah defensive end Derrick Shelby scored a touchdown. Utah had a 14-10 lead at the halftime break before the Utes scored 40 points in the second half to pull out a 54-10 win in Provo.

Quarterback Jordan Wynn threw for 239 yards, 2 touchdowns and one interception. Running back John White IV racked up 174 yards and 3 touchdowns.

The Cougars turned the ball over seven times.

6. 2018: Utes Come Back To Beat BYU

On November 24, 2018 in the regular season finale, Utah looked like they were looking ahead to the Pac-12 Championship game against Washington when they were in the first half against BYU at Rice-Eccles Stadium. The Cougars started the game with two Zach Wilson touchdown passes to Neil Pau’u and Matt Bushman in the first quarter.

BYU extended their lead to 20-0 after a rushing touchdown by Matt Hadley. The comeback started for Utah in the third quarter when Julian Blackmon returned an interception 27-yards for a touchdown. But BYU crushed the Ute faithful’s hopes with another touchdown by Hadley midway through the third quarter to give BYU a 27-7 lead.

Unfortunately for the Cougars, that was the last time they would score. Late in the third, quarterback Jason Shelley hit wide receiver Samson Nacua for a 10-yard touchdown. In the fourth quarter, running back Armand Shyne scored two straight touchdowns to give Utah a one-point lead with three minutes remaining. Shelley extended the lead to 8 with a 33-yard rushing touchdown. The Utes picked up their 8th straight win over BYU with a 35-27 win.

Shelley threw for 141 yards, ran for 61 yards and scored two total touchdowns.

November 24, 2018: BYU had a 27-7 lead midway through the third quarter. Utah scored 4 unanswered touchdowns to complete the comeback with a 35-27 win and their 8th straight victory over the Cougars.

Posted by KSL Sports on Wednesday, June 10, 2020

5. 2016: Joe Williams Runs All Over Pasadena

If you like high-scoring football games, this one was for you. It was October 22, 2016 when the Utes traveled to the Rose Bowl as the 19th ranked team in the country and a 6-1 record to face the struggling Bruins.

Utah scored two unanswered touchdowns to start the game including a opening 99-yard kickoff return for a touchdown by Cory Butler-Byrd. UCLA answered with three straight touchdowns before taking a 21-14 lead at the end of the first. It was all Utah in the second quarter with two field goals by Andy Phillips and a 43-yard touchdown by Joe Williams. The Utes had a 27-21 lead at halftime.

In the third quarter, Utah scored 18 points while UCLA put up 14 points. During the final quarter, Joe Williams put Utah up 52-38 early in the period before UCLA scored late but the Utes picked up a 52-45 win.

Joe Williams rushed for 332 yards and 4 touchdowns. He set the school record for most rushing yards in a single game. The record still stands today.

4. 2014: Late TD Gives Utah Win Over No. 20 USC

It took four tries but Utah was able to beat USC for the first time since joining the Pac-12 on October 25, 2014. Entering the game, USC was 5-2 and ranked No. 20 in the country. Utah was 5-1 and No. 19 in the nation.

Utah defensive back Davion Orphey recovered a fumble when USC thought the play was dead but recognized the lack of a whistle from the officials and scored a touchdown. USC later tied the game and 7-7 was the score at the end of the opening period.

After a field goal by Utah in the second quarter, on the ensuing kickoff, USC star Adoree’ Jackson returned a kickoff 100-yards for a touchdown to give the Trojans a 14-10 lead. The only score in the third quarter came on a 24-yard rushing touchdown by Devontae Booker. USC took the lead back early in the fourth quarter, 21-17. Travis Wilson took the Utes down the field where he connected with Kaelin Clay for a one-yard touchdown with 8 seconds remaining to give Utah the 24-21 win.

Wilson threw for 194 yards and one touchdown. Booker rushed for 102 yards and a score.

3. 2013: Utes Secure First Signature Pac-12 Win Over No. 5 Stanford

On October 12, 2013, Utah secured their first signature win as a member of the Pac-12. They hosted No. 5 and undefeated Stanford while the Utes were just 3-2 entering the clash.

Utah jumped out to a 21-14 lead at the half before extending that lead to 24-14 at the end of the third quarter. Kicker Andy Phillips nailed a 48-yard field goal early in the fourth quarter to give Utah a 27-14 advantage. Stanford scored one touchdown after that but had one more opportunity late to score but Utah’s defense held the Cardinal out of the end zone to secure the 27-21 win.

Travis Wilson had 234 yards, 2 touchdowns and one interception. Running back Bubba Poole rushed for 111 yards while wide receiver Dres Anderson caught 4 passes for 82 yards and a touchdown.

We went into our archives and pulled out this gem. October 12, 2013: Utah slugged it out with No. 5 Stanford to snatch their first signature win as a member of the Pac-12.

Posted by KSL Sports on Wednesday, June 10, 2020

2. 2016: Tim Patrick TD Lifts Utah Over USC

On September 23, 2016, Utah was 3-0 and ranked No. 24 in the nation while the Trojans were struggling with a 1-2 record. It was the first start for Sam Darnold as the USC quarterback. The Utes started with a rushing touchdown by Troy Williams before Adoree’ Jackson took a kickoff 100-yards for a touchdown. The Trojans took a 17-10 lead to the locker room at halftime.

Early in the fourth quarter, USC took a 27-17 lead. Utah answered with a 10-yard touchdown catch from Troy Williams to Raelon Singleton. On Utah’s final drive of the game and trailing 27-24, Williams led Utah down the field and found wide receiver Tim Patrick for an 18-yard touchdown with 16 seconds left. The Utes came away with the 31-27 win.

1. 2015: Utes Smash Ducks In Eugene

The best win for Utah football in the Pac-12 era has to be the game in Eugene on September 26, 2015. It was the Pac-12 opener for both teams with Utah being ranked No. 18 in the country with a 3-0 record while Oregon was No. 13 in the nation with a 2-1 mark.

The blowout didn’t begin until the second quarter when both teams were tied at 6 apiece after the opening quarter. The Utes scored 21 points in the second and 28 points in the third quarter, on their way to a 62-20 win that absolutely stunned Autzen Stadium.

Just about everything went right for Utah on offense and the unit opened up the playbook. In the third quarter, wide receiver Britain Covey caught a 25-yard touchdown pass from running back Devontae Booker.

On a kickoff return, Utah scored a touchdown off of a trick play. Covey was on one side of the field with cornerback Boobie Hobbs on the other side. When Oregon kicked the ball to Utah, the return unit favored Covey’s side, forcing Oregon’s kickoff team to believe that it was going to Covey but the ball went to Hobbs and he went 69-yards untouched for a touchdown.

Quarterback Travis Wilson threw for 227 yards and 4 touchdowns, while also rushing for 100 yards and another score.

Trevor Allen is a Utah Utes Insider for KSLSports.com and host of the Crimson Corner podcast. Follow him on Twitter: @TrevorASportsYou can download and listen to the podcast, here.

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