Instant Takeaways From The Rose Bowl: Some Things Just Aren’t Meant To Be

Jan 2, 2023, 7:31 PM


JANUARY 02: Kalen King #4 of the Penn State Nittany Lions intercepts a pass intended for Devaughn Vele #17 of the Utah Utes during the first quarter in the 2023 Rose Bowl Game at Rose Bowl Stadium on January 02, 2023 in Pasadena, California. (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)

(Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)

PASADENA, CA- No. 11 Penn State and No. 8 Utah went at it for a full 60 minutes in the 109th Rose Bowl, unfortunately for the Utes, some things just are not meant to be. The Utes and Nittany Lions traded blows through the first and second quarters, but Utah came out flat in the third quarter and most disastrously of all quarterback Cam Rising exited the game with a leg injury.


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There is no doubt Utah wanted to get this game for themselves and 22, but sometimes you just can’t get what you want. Here are few instant reactions to Utah’s 35 – 21 loss to Penn State in the 2023 Rose Bowl.

Rising And The Rose Bowl Don’t Mix

Perhaps the most glaring thing to come out of this game was Rising exiting the game early with a leg injury that head coach Kyle Whittingham said doesn’t look good and may take a while for the quarterback to recover from. Whittingham said they would know more about that in the coming days and have a better read.

Rising exited Utah’s first Rose Bowl game early as well last season against Ohio State after getting his head rocked which led to him wearing new helmet technology in the 2022 season.


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Hard to say what it is about this particular game and Rising, but they don’t seem to agree with each other at all.

Unlike last season however, Rising did not look his best against Penn State, even before he left the game. Rising ended his night eight of 21 for 95 yards, one touchdown and one interception. He also ran the ball 10 times for 47 yards which is how he ended up getting hurt.

Dropped Passes

Whether it was Cam Rising or Bryson Barnes throwing the ball, one thing was certain. Utah was not sharp in the throw game. There were just far too many dropped passes at key moments that at other times in the season the Utes made.

Part of the issue of course was missing key playmakers like tight ends Dalton Kincaid and Brant Kuithe. However, that’s also not the entire story either. Utah was playing rather tight and other playmakers like wide receiver Devaughn Vele and tight end Thomas Yassmin didn’t play the way we are used to seeing them play.

Overall, the Utes finished 18 of 40 passing which just isn’t good enough. Even with 207 total yards and two touchdowns.

Explosive Plays

Along the same lines, but a little different is explosive plays. The Utes struggled to make the big, play regularly and it hurt them.

Penn State rattled off plays of 28, 32, 20, 87, and 88 yards at various, key moments of the game and Utah’s defense struggled to eliminate those.

On the other side, Utah only had a 47-yard pass to Vele, a 28-yarder to Dixon and a 19-yard touchdown run by Ja’Quinden Jackson that took big chunks of field away. Otherwise, the Utes were mostly operating off of small chunk plays which didn’t allow them to ever pull ahead.


Rising’s interception was already mentioned, but Barnes also threw an interception in the game as well. Anyone that has been around Utah football long enough knows turnovers are a big key in Whittingham’s game plan and being negative two in the turnover margin isn’t going to cut it.

Respect The Process

Whittingham mentioned in his post-game press conference that as disappointing as this game was and as much as Utah wanted the win, it’s just another step in the process. As Whittingham pointed out, it took the Utes a few tries to get their first Pac-12 Title after moving up from the Mountain West Conference and now the new challenge is consistently winning New Year Six Bowls, or the new 12-Team College Football Playoff however that is set up.

In a way it can feel like a letdown, but when looking at the overall history of the program and their ability to overcome hurdles as they present themselves, there is no one better. Even if it takes a few tries.


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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Instant Takeaways From The Rose Bowl: Some Things Just Aren’t Meant To Be