Instant Takeaways: The Stars Are Aligning For The Utes Edition?
BOULDER, COL- It was a big ask, but not an undoable ask for the Utes to be heading to Las Vegas to play USC for the conference championship game. There is still one more game that will determine exactly what happens. Washington at Washington State at 8:30 pm MT on ESPN looms big, otherwise the stars seem to be aligning for the Utes.
To lay it out for everyone once more as to how Utah gets to the Pac-12 Championship Game:
1. UCLA win over Cal ✅
2. Oregon State win over Oregon ✅
3. Utah win over Colorado ✅
4. UW win over WSU- YTBD
That games kicks off at 8:30PM MT on ESPN.#GoUtes
— Michelle Bodkin (@BodkinKSLsports) November 27, 2022
Not only did Utah take care of business convincingly against Colorado, 63-21, but UCLA beat Cal the night before, and Oregon State squeaked one out against Oregon just before the Utes’ game wrapped up.
With all that being said, it feels like everything is falling into place for the Utes to head to Vegas to take on USC for the Pac-12 Championship next week, but we have to wait a few more hours to know for sure.
In the meantime, here are a few takeaways from Utah’s dismantling of Colorado.
Cam Rising was not good last week. Everyone knew it including him. That wasn’t the case Saturday afternoon against Colorado though.
Rising finished the day 17-19 for 234 yards and three touchdowns and didn’t play in the second half because the job was more than done at halftime. Rising completed 89% of his passes while also rushing once for 13 yards.
UTAH MAN AM I pic.twitter.com/z90ekV2UeP
— Utah Football (@Utah_Football) November 27, 2022
Utah’s quarterback and team captain looked much more like we are all accustomed to and it couldn’t happen at a better time with the potential of a Pac-12 Championship appearance looking more and more likely.
With Tavion Thomas hanging them up to focus on getting ready for the NFL, Utah needed to start exploring their future and it looks bright. Ja’Quinden Jackson was still a quarterback almost halfway through Utah’s season before he made the switch to running back against Arizona State.
Jackson has gotten better and better as the weeks have gone on having comparable size to Thomas at 6’2″ and 232 pounds, but with slightly better speed. Jackson put all of that on display against the Buffaloes posting 117 yards on 10 attempts for three touchdowns. Jackson’s most impressive play of the night was a 66-yarder he ripped off with ease for his final touchdown of the night.
— Utah Football (@Utah_Football) November 26, 2022
It’s also worth noting here that running back Micah Bernard looked close to his normal self. Much like Rising, Bernard has felt limited since the USC game. This afternoon however, Bernard posted 12 carries for 91 yards and one touchdown while also snagging one grab for eight yards.
In relief, Jaylon Glover saw his first action since the Arizona game and added 13 carries for 62 yards and a touchdown.
Tight end Dalton Kincaid was another guy who was looking close to his normal self against Colorado bringing in five catches for 102 yards and touchdown before the half. Kincaid’s touchdown was the last touch of his night and for a minute it looked scary.
Whittingham did report after the game they don’t think Kincaid is serious and hope to have him back soon. A better prognosis will come on Monday.
— KSL Sports (@kslsports) November 26, 2022
While Utah will want Kincaid, others did step up and look good catching the ball. Money Parks (4 catches for 4 y0ards, 1 touchdown) and Makai Cope (3 catches, 34 yards and 1 touchdown) were both impressive.
Fellow tight end Thomas Yassmin only posted one reception, but it was particularly exciting leading to a 41-yard touchdown that Yassmin hurdled to get.
It can’t be said enough. Utah’s defense has grown by leaps and bounds in 2022. It was painful to start, but where they currently stand should make fans feel really good moving forward.
Colorado only posted 185 total yards of offense for the entire game. At halftime they only had 18 total yards of offense which means most of their yardage came off of second, third and fourth stringers.
Sione Vaki and Lander Barton were particularly outstanding in Utah’s victory. Both posted four total tackles with Barton getting a sack, tackle for loss and quarterback hurry up, while Vaki added two tackles for loss and a pass breakup. Barton and Vaki always seemed to be in the right place at the right time in big moments for Utah’s defense.
HOW BOUT THAT UTAH DEFENSE
— Utah Football (@Utah_Football) November 26, 2022
Linebackers Hayden Furey and Mohamoud Diabate were no slouches either. Furey lead the team in tackles with six while also having a huge save on a muffed punt for special teams that eventually led to a Utah score.
Diabate had four total tackles and 1.5 tackles for loss.
It is also worth noting the Utes did this without Clark Phillips III on the field who opted to sit out rather than risk injury.
The Stars Are Aligning For The Utes???
As mentioned before, it is feeling like the stars are aligning for Utah to go to Vegas despite not getting it done last week against Oregon.
FINAL SCORE from Boulder.
UTAH 63 COLORADO 21
— KSL Sports (@kslsports) November 27, 2022
There was a time during the Utes’ game that it felt like Oregon State was going to fold to Oregon being down by 20, but they came storming back and won by 4 in just the nick of time.
All that is left is for Washington to take care of Washington State which does not feel impossible. Be sure to stay with us on updates on that game as it unfolds later tonight.
Michelle Bodkin is the Utah Utes Insider for KSLsports.com and host of both the Crimson Corner Podcast (SUBSCRIBE) and The Saturday Show (Saturday from 10 a.m.–12 p.m.) on The KSL Sports Zone. Follow her on Twitter and Instagram: @BodkinKSLsports
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