Slain Utah football player remembered for optimism, kindness

Jeffrey Swinger-USA TODAY Sports
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MESQUITE, Texas- Utah football player Aaron Lowe was remembered as an optimist, role model and friend at his funeral Monday, and coach Kyle Whittingham announced the school would retire Lowe’s number and establish a scholarship in his name.

Lowe’s coaches and teammates, Utah athletic staff and the university president traveled from Salt Lake City to attend the service at Family Cathedral of Praise in Lowe’s hometown east of Dallas. Inside the casket, Lowe’s body was adorned in a white football uniform, including cleats, and a football was placed in his hands.

Lowe, 21, was fatally shot Sept. 26 in Salt Lake City, hours after a win over Washington State and nine months after Utes running back Ty Jordan died in an accidental shooting on Christmas night 2020.

Lowe and Jordan were friends and football teammates at West Mesquite High before they went to Utah. Lowe switched his jersey number to Jordan’s No. 22 this season and was the first recipient of a memorial scholarship established in Jordan’s honor.

“I loved Aaron Lowe just like everybody who came in contact with him,” Whittingham said. “He had a great heart, great smile. His personality, every time he went into a room, it lit up. He had that kind of charm and charisma. He approached life with clear eyes and a full heart.”

Athletic director Mark Harlan said Lowe, a communications major, was a curious student who showed concern for everyone around him, especially for those younger than him.

“Thank you for sharing him,” Harlan said to Lowe’s family. “Thank you for letting him be a part of us for the time we had. Yes, we’ll retire the number. It’s all about Aaron and all he did for us.”

Sharrieff Shah, the Utes’ cornerbacks coach and special teams coordinator, said Lowe overflowed with kindness and was “infectiously optimistic.” He said Lowe worked hard to become eligible academically coming out of high school and was an honor roll student at Utah when he died.

Salt Lake City police on Oct. 3 arrested 22-year-old Buk M. Buk in the shooting and booked him on charges of aggravated murder, attempted murder and felony discharge of a firearm. Police Chief Mike Brown did not disclose a motive but said the shooting was not a targeted attack on the university, its athletic department or Lowe, nor was it gang-related.

No. 3 TCU loses 31-28 in OT to K-State in Big 12 title game

Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports
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ARLINGTON, Texas — Ty Zentner kicked a 31-yard field goal in overtime as 13th-ranked Kansas State beat No. 3 TCU 31-28 in the Big 12 championship game Saturday, leaving the Horned Frogs to wait another day to find out if they had already done enough to get into the four-team College Football Playoff.

The Wildcats set up the winning field goal after TCU (12-1) had the opening possession of overtime and Kendre Miller was stopped short on consecutive plays from inside the 1.

Deuce Vaughn ran for 130 yards and a touchdown and Will Howard threw two TDs for the Wildcats (10-3, No. 10 CFP), who six weeks earlier had jumped out to a 28-10 lead early in the second quarter before TCU scored the game’s last 28 points.

That was one of five games the Horned Frogs (12-1, No. 3 CFP) won when trailing after halftime. But they couldn’t do it again with the chance to guarantee being the first Big 12 team other than Oklahoma to make the playoff.

TCU, the first Big 12 team to complete a regular season undefeated since Texas in 2009, could still get into the playoff. While their case was helped when fourth-ranked Southern California (11-2) lost 47-24 to Utah in the Pac-12 championship game Friday night, the Frogs now have to wait until the final CFP rankings come out Sunday.

Big 12 Commissioner Brett Yormark said before the game that TCU, with first-year coach Sonny Dykes, already deserved to be in the playoff.

“You look at their strength of schedule. You think about how they’ve performed all year long,” Yormark said. “I think regardless, they should be in, for sure.”

No. 4 USC falls to Utah in Pac-12 Championship, damaging playoff hopes

Utah vs. USC
USA Today
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LAS VEGAS — No. 12 Utah pounded a limping, bloodied Caleb Williams and roared past No. 4 Southern California 47-24 on Friday night to win the Pac-12 Championship and put USC’s College Football Playoff hopes in doubt.

The loss by the Trojans (11-2) could open the way for Ohio State (11-1) to take their spot in the playoffs. USC is fourth in the CFP rankings, the Buckeyes are one step behind.

Ohio State had to be Utah’s biggest fan. The Buckeyes move up in playoff consideration, with 12-0 Michigan at No. 2 with the Big Ten championship game on Saturday, that would give the Big Ten conference two playoff teams for the first time. It also would extend the Pac-12′s playoff drought — Washington in 2017 is the last team from that conference to make the playoffs.

Utah (10-3) is heading to the Rose Bowl, but the Utes already were going there regardless of the outcome of the title game. They are responsible for USC’s only losses, having edged the Trojans 43-42 on Oct. 15 in Salt Lake City.

The Utes rolled up 533 yards of offense in the rematch, and Cam Rising passed for 310 yards and three touchdowns.

Williams threw for 363 yards and three TDs. He entered the game as the leading Heisman Trophy candidate, but wasn’t the same after getting injured in the first quarter.

The Trojans looked as if they were going to run away with the game, taking a 17-3 lead early in the second quarter behind some stellar play by Williams.

He appeared to hurt his left knee or leg in the first quarter on a 59-yard run in which he took a big hit at the end, and he suffered a bad cut on the pinky finger of his throwing hand. He spent most of the game limping, and wasn’t the same after a sterling first quarter in which the Trojans outgained Utah in total yards 194-70, and Williams had both touchdown passes.

After USC failed to pick up a fourth-and-8 from Utah’s 37-yard line, the Utes scored two touchdowns in the final 3:55 of the first half, and suddenly the game was tied at 17. Instead of a rout, the game was beginning to look like the shootout the Utes won in October.

The game took on that tone at times in the second half, but USC had no answer for how to slow down Utah, which outscored the Trojans 44-7 in overcoming that two-touchdown deficit.

ATTENDANCE RECORD

A announced sellout crowd of 61,195 made this the largest for a neutral-site Pac-12 Championship. It beat the previous record of 58,476 fans. who watched Southern California-Stanford in Santa Clara, California, in 2015.