Despite Loss To Oregon State, Utah Is Still In Command Of Pac-12 Goal

Oct 29, 2021, 11:11 AM
Tavion Thomas - Utah Utes - Oregon State Beavers...
Utah Utes RB Tavion Thomas (9) runs the ball against Oregon State Beavers DB Jaydon Grant (3) and Oregon State Beavers OLB Riley Sharp (56) during a PAC-12 conference football game between the Utah Utes and Oregon State Beavers on October 23, 2021 at Reser Stadium in Corvallis, Oregon. (Photo by Brian Murphy/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
(Photo by Brian Murphy/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – Utah defensive lineman Devin Kaufusi said the loss to Oregon State “stung” when he joined Unrivaled for his weekly appearance on the Players Club.

Even with the Utes falling in its first Pac-12 game of the season, it does not change the trajectory of its goals for this year.

Utah still leads the Pac-12 South with one loss and owns the tiebreaker over Arizona State with the head-to-head. This makes this upcoming game at home vs. UCLA very important. The Bruins have two league losses but a win over the Utes would make the top of the South Division in a pretzel of sorts.

Utah and UCLA would now have two league losses and Arizona State who has one conference loss hosts Washington State and is a heavy favorite. So, this game versus the Bruins is very important and all the Utes have to do is win to keep their sites on the Pac-12 goals alive.

ESPN’s Football Power Index has Utes as a heavy favorite to win the South with a 58.9% chance to win it – even with No. 7 Oregon on the schedule – that number dwarfs both Arizona State and UCLA who have a 33.1% and a 6.9% chance to win the South.

Utah head coach Kyle Whittingham has reiterated that while Oregon State was not a great performance they still are in control of winning the division and going to their third Pac-12 title game in four years.

“A lot of positives going forward that we have to play for,” Whittingham said after the Oregon State loss. “We really are not even halfway through the conference schedule, four down, five to go. I told the guys ‘don’t hang your head, come back with resolve. It’s a balanced conference that has a lot of good teams and it’s a lot of give and take in this league.’

Kaufusi discussed Whittingham’s motivation technique and particularly after a loss. The message this week was about how UCLA and Arizona State need help to win the division but the Utes do not and can take care of business all on their own.

“[Whittingham] talks about moving forward on Monday. Which is crazy as we are still in the driver’s seat in the Pac-12 South,” Kaufusi said. “He said ‘out of the three teams in the running, we are the one that are really in the driver’s seat and everyone has to hope for a win or loss by someone else.’ We have the keys… and stay in the driver’s seat and in control.

“There is no better spot we could be in despite the losses – including this one from Oregon State. There is no reason to sulk and dwell on this loss; we have something to go out and protect.”

This UCLA game is the next big one on the Utes schedule and it will not be easy. The Bruins have not lost a game on the road and the Utes are undefeated at home this season. A win over the UCLA will give Utah a big lead in the South and could possibly eliminate the Bruins from making the championship game.

Everything at this point for Utah to achieve its goal of another division title is completely in their hands.

Tune into Unrivaled every Monday through Friday, 3-7p .m. on 1280 The Zone and 97.5 FM or subscribe to the podcast. Also, download the all-new KSL Sports app on iOS or Android.

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