Three Takeaways From Utah Football’s Epic, Farewell Win At USC

Oct 21, 2023, 11:35 PM | Updated: Oct 23, 2023, 1:18 pm

LOS ANGELES – Utah versus USC has been a great series and the last round for the foreseeable future did not disappoint as the Utes pulled off a final, epic win in the Coliseum.

The Utes and Trojans will be going their separate ways in 2024. USC will be heading to the Big 10. Utah to the Big 12, but not before beating the blue blood of the soon to be defunct Pac-12 for a fourth straight time and second straight time in their house.

Utah looked dead in the water after blowing a two-score lead with a 1:46 left in the game. The Utes never flinched even down 32-31 and needing one last drive to kick a game-winning field goal. Quarterback Bryson Barnes delivered just that, resulting in a 34-32 final score in favor of Utah.

Here are three takeaways from Utah’s spectacular parting win in Los Angeles.

Takeaway No. 1: Pig Farmer Vs. Heisman Winner

By now we all know Bryson Barnes’ backstory- the plucky, can-do Pig Farmer from Milford, Utah who keeps finding himself in positions to be Utah’s unlikely hero.

It started in the Utes’ first Rose Bowl appearance against Ohio State. Barnes then followed it up with his first real start and win last season against Washington State, getting the call-up at the 12th hour. His number was then subsequently called up during Utah’s second Rose Bowl appearance and then to start for Utah’s opener against Florida as the team waited on starter Cam Rising.

Barnes lost the backup role to Nate Johnson for three games after a poor performance at Baylor but was called back to action last week against Cal and fared well. This all led up to this night. The night Bryson Barnes truly cemented himself as a Utah legend.

Barnes finished the night 14 of 23 for 235 yards, three touchdowns and one interception. He also rushed 10 times for 57 yards and one more touchdown.


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Takeaway No. 2: Sione Vaki

Does much more need to be said, really? My NFL contacts loved him before the past two weeks as just a defensive player. They love him even more now that he’s showing chops as an offensive player too.

Versatility matters.

So does doing anything and everything you can for your team when they are down on their luck with injuries.

Vaki has been all of that and more for the Utes.

Against USC Vaki rushed nine times for 68 yards and he was also deadly in the passing game pulling in five receptions for 149 yards and two touchdowns. Defensively, Vaki added two tackles on the night.

He was a difference maker.

Takeaway No. 3: Teamwork Makes The Dream Work

This is not the Utah football team we thought we were going to get, but maybe it was the one we needed.

We talk so much anymore about conference realignment, larger than life college athletes raking in ridiculous NIL money, the haves and the have nots- all the things that are souring fans on college football.

Utah figuring out how to win as a team with some of their biggest stars out while taking on one of their hardest schedules in history is just the reminder we all need that we work better together.

We accomplish more when we have each other’s backs- no matter how frustrating a situation is.

Utah is doing the thing. They are 6-1 and they have done it in the most unexpected way possible. Fans should be proud of that.


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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 XInstagram, and Threads: @BodkinKSLsports

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Three Takeaways From Utah Football’s Epic, Farewell Win At USC