UTAH UTES

PK: A Wild Two Weeks Goes From Despair To Elation For Utah Football

Dec 2, 2022, 10:49 PM
Kyle-Whittingham-Utah-Utes-USC-Trojans-Pac-12-Championship-Game...
Head coach Kyle Whittingham of the Utah Utes gets a Gatorade bath by Paul Maile #54 during the fourth quarter in the Pac-12 Championship against the USC Trojans at Allegiant Stadium on December 02, 2022 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by David Becker/Getty Images)
(Photo by David Becker/Getty Images)

LAS VEGAS – From despair to elation and then swallowed up in once-thought-unimaginable joy, the Utah football program has run through the gamut of emotions over the last two weeks.

In the end, or the bottom line to quote one of coach Kyle Whittingham’s favorite phrases, all that matters is the Utes are going to the Rose Bowl again. Utah withstood an early USC onslaught and captured the goal of a second consecutive Pac-12 championship by winning 47-24 Friday night before a sellout crowd of 61,195 at Allegiant Stadium.

RELATED: Social Media Goes Crazy After Utah Football Repeats As Pac-12 Champs

What does it all mean?

Well, the Pac-12 blew a golden opportunity to get a team in the national playoff with USC going down in flames. Entering the game at fourth in the rankings, the Trojans needed only to win to secure the Pac-12’s first playoff bid since Washington made it in 2017.

Not that the Utes care in the least.

 

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Proving once again as the Pac-12’s current dominant team, Utah ignored all the hype surrounding the favored Trojans. It was as if Utah’s thrilling one-point win over USC in October never happened.

USC, which featured the Heisman favorite in quarterback Caleb Williams, was supposed to be a virtual lock when the playoff pairings are announced Sunday. But now the Trojans are destined for a New Year’s Six bowl game in which they likely will have no desire to participate in.

At least they can have good seats in front of their television sets to watch Utah play in the Rose Bowl in a month. The venue that used to belong to USC – which has made 34 appearances in the Pasadena, Calif., game – in early January suddenly has become Utah’s home away from during the holidays.

 

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The first time is unforgettable, but No. 2 for the Utes is sweeter. Oregon, last year’s opponent in the conference championship game, was a wreck by the time early December rolled around.

Oregon’s coach, Mario Cristobal, had more than one football out the door going into the game. He was on an airplane practically minutes after the loss to take the job at Miami, his alma mater.

USC also got a new coach, making the splash of the offseason in luring Lincoln Riley away from Big 12 powerhouse Oklahoma. The Trojans quickly became the darlings of college football with a high-powered offense, but the revamped lineup paid for through the transfer portal wasn’t enough to buy a Pac-12 championship.

 

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Don’t believe the money line? Ask one of BYU’s players off the team last year who turned down more than a few dollars for the chance to play at USC this year.

But enough about the losers. This night belonged to Whittingham’s winners.

In a replica of the first game at Rice-Eccles Stadium, USC looked unbeatable early in racing out to a 17-3 lead. But the guys in the real red regrouped and managed to tie the game on a touchdown with two seconds left in the first half.

Utah’s defense then took over, repeatedly getting in the face of Williams. The simple task of getting a first down became difficult.

In his defense, the sophomore transfer from Oklahoma suffered a cut on his throwing hand early in the game and then was limping in the second half. But, hey, as Whittingham often repeats, nobody cares about your injuries.

The win capped a wild two weeks for Utah, which thought its dream for a repeat ended with the crushing loss at Oregon. Tiebreaker rules indicated the Utes needed three games to break their way, in addition to beating hapless Colorado, and, by golly, all of it happened.

 

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Just think – if not for Oregon’s meltdown in blowing a 21-point lead in the second half to Oregon State last week, the Utes would have dispatched to a lesser bowl. But the what-if game is for losers, anyway.

Bottom line – there we go again – Utah is going to The Granddaddy of them all. And there we go some more – smell the roses, baby.

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PK: A Wild Two Weeks Goes From Despair To Elation For Utah Football