Utah Football Fans Made A Difference In Pac-12 Championship Game
LAS VEGAS – When the Utah football team faced Oregon at Allegiant Stadium in Las Vegas in the Pac-12 Championship game, it felt like a home game.
Rice-Eccles Stadium has been a great home-field advantage for Utah over the years and that environment extended to Allegiant Stadium in Las Vegas on Friday night.
In the buildup to the game, it certainly had a feeling that Utah would have more fans in attendance than Oregon, simply with how close Las Vegas is to Salt Lake City compared to Eugene, Oregon.
After the game, head coach Kyle Whittingham was asked when he noticed it was a very pro-Utah crowd in Sin City.
“During warm ups,” Whittingham said. “It was incredible. It was five to one is what it looked like during warm ups. Then when the game actually started, it was probably still close to that, four to one, three to one but it was definitely a crowd in our favor. Appreciate our crowd. They’ve been awesome all year long. The crowd at Rice-Eccles 13 days ago for that Oregon game was the best environment I’ve ever been in. This was just a great show of support from our fans. I promise you one thing they’re gonna travel at the Rose Bowl. I guarantee you that.”
Utes quarterback Cam Rising was not surprised to see the Utah fans show up in full force.
“I knew that the Utes were going to travel and they were going to do a great job getting down here and make sure they were there at the start,” Rising said. “We were out there two hours before (kickoff) and we already saw a bunch of red out there, which definitely helped in our favor.”
Linebacker and Pac-12 Championship Game MVP Devin Lloyd knows what the Utah fans do for the team as they have sold out Rice-Eccles Stadium for 12 straight years.
“I think we have the best fans in the nation,” Lloyd said. “I love the way they travel. Everything they do, even at home they have been showing up. It was no surprise to me when they showed up. They were loud the whole game.”
Defensive end Mika Tafua was surprised at the showing by fans but it reminded him of playing back in Salt Lake City.
“I was for sure,” Tafua said. “It was almost like we were at Rice-Eccles. I feel like we would’ve had more if they would’ve sold more tickets to the Utah fans. You could tell the difference between our third downs and their (Oregon) third downs. That helps the defense a lot with the crowd noise. It was definitely an advantage for us to have a lot of fans there.”
Trevor Allen is a Utah Utes Insider for KSLSports.com, Co-Host of Faith, Family and Football podcast with Clark Phillips III and host of the Crimson Corner podcast. Follow him on Twitter: @TrevorASports.
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