Rising throws three touchdowns, No. 16 Utah beats Colorado 28-13

Jeffrey Swinger-USA TODAY Sports
0 Comments

SALT LAKE CITY – Cameron Rising threw three touchdown passes, Tavion Thomas ran for 142 yards and a score, and No. 16 Utah beat Colorado 28-13 on Friday.

The Utes (9-3, 8-1 Pac-12), who won their fifth straight game, rushed for 265 yards and held Colorado (4-8, 3-6 Pac-12) to 148 yards of total offense with the Pac-12 Championship game looming.

Rising scrambled and found Britain Covey on an improvised forward pitch for a 13-yard touchdown with 6:45 left in the third quarter to cap the scoring.

Thomas proved tough to tackle on any play, but especially when he powered through the first level and into the secondary to extend his school-record to 18 rushing touchdowns.

Rising was 14-of-23 for 179 yards passing. T.J. Pledger added 103 yards on the ground.

Colorado’s Brendon Lewis was harassed all game and finished with 84 yards passing, going 9-for-23, with four sacks.

The week after the Utes clinched the Pac-12 South against Oregon and ended the Ducks’ playoff hopes, Utah looked less than focused at the start against CU.

Not long after Rising ran onto the field accompanied by Creedence Clearwater Revival’s “Bad Moon Rising,”, he overthrew Brant Kuithe right into the hands of Colorado’s Mark Perry. His 40-yard return set up a 33-yard field goal by Cole Becker for the Buffaloes’ first score of the day.

Becker hit a 56-yarder on the last play of the half.

The Buffaloes exploited the Utes’ weak link — special teams — with a blocked field goal in the first quarter and an electrifying 100-yard touchdown return by Nikko Reed to open the second half and cut the lead to 14-13.

But Colorado never figured out a way to attack the stout Utah defense with only nine first downs, three three-and-outs and two turnovers on downs.

Aided by Utah’s effective rushing attack, Rising righted the ship after his rough start with two first-half touchdown passes, one to Kuithe and another to Dalton Kincaid.

On Senior Day, eight actual seniors on the young Utah team were honored but were joined by 10 juniors — including stars like receiver Covey, linebacker Devin Lloyd, lineman Nick Ford and tight end Kuithe — who may or may not return next season.

The team has rallied from a 1-2 start around the pair’s memory to win eight of their last nine games on their way to their third Pac-12 Championship appearance in four seasons.

Utah won 700th game in school history, claimed its fifth straight win in the Colorado series and finished the season undefeated at home.

HONORING LOST TEAMMATES

Within the last year, the Utes lost star running back Ty Jordan and defensive back Aaron Lowe to tragic deaths and honored them with a TJ-AL logo on their helmets.

THE TAKEAWAY

Colorado: The Buffaloes, who averaged 267 yards of total offense a game and ranked third from the bottom in producing offense across the country, were anemic on offense but opportunistic on special teams. Colorado also kept the Utes from hitting big plays in the passing game.

Utah: The Utes again leaned on their running game and made crucial passes when needed. It wasn’t a clean offensive performance and another startling failure on special teams, but the defense made sure the result was never in doubt as Utah now eyes the Pac-12 title game.

UP NEXT

Colorado’s season has ended.

Utah will play in the Pac-12 Championship game on December 3 in Las Vegas.

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

Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports
0 Comments

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
0 Comments

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.