No. 7 Utah’s Cameron Rising returning for another season

Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports
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SALT LAKE CITY – Utah quarterback Cameron Rising is returning after considering a jump to the NFL.

The school announced Monday that Rising will be back as a sixth-year senior in 2023 after leading the Utes to consecutive Pac-12 titles.

Rising was a semifinalist for the Davey O’Brien and Maxwell awards after throwing for 3,034 yards and 26 touchdowns with eight interceptions. The Ventura, California, native was named MVP of the Pac-12 Championship game after leading the Utes to a 47-24 win that knocked USC out of the College Football Playoff.

Utah played in the Rose Bowl the past two seasons, falling short in both after Rising went down with injuries. He suffered a left leg injury and had to leave in the third quarter of this year’s game, which the Utes lost 35-21 to Penn State.

Rising’s return adds to a strong list of Pac-12 quarterbacks who will be back in 2023, including Heisman Trophy winner Caleb Williams of USC, Oregon’s Bo Nix and Washington State’s Michael Penix Jr. Former Clemson quarterback DJ Uiagalelei also transferred to Oregon State.

Big-play Penn State roars past Utah 35-21 in Rose Bowl

rose bowl
Gary A. Vasquez/USA TODAY Sports
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PASADENA, Calif. — KeAndre Lambert-Smith had the longest touchdown reception in Rose Bowl history on an 88-yard pass from Sean Clifford, freshman Nicholas Singleton broke a tiebreaking 87-yard touchdown run, and No. 9 Penn State rallied past No. 7 Utah 35-21 in the 109th edition of the Granddaddy of Them All.

Clifford passed for 279 yards and two touchdowns in an impressive farewell to Penn State, and Singleton rushed for 120 yards and two more scores on a rainy day filled with spectacular big plays by the Nittany Lions (11-2).

Utah couldn’t rally with quarterback Cameron Rising sidelined by a second-half injury, and coach James Franklin’s exuberant group comfortably won the Rose Bowl for the second time in school history and the first since Jan. 2, 1995.

Singleton got the Nittany Lions rolling in a well-played game when he broke through Utah’s defensive front and outran the secondary for his second touchdown early in the third quarter. The 87-yard romp was the third-longest TD run in Rose Bowl history and the second-longest in Penn State’s bowl history.

Shortly after rain began to fall on the Rose Bowl Game for the first time since 1997, Lambert-Smith got open deep and eluded Utah’s defensive backs on the first snap of the fourth quarter for the longest pass completion in Penn State’s bowl history. Clifford’s pass also broke the Rose Bowl record of 76 yards by Michigan’s Rick Leach to Curt Stephenson in 1978 against Washington.

Freshman Kaytron Allen added a 1-yard TD run with 10:36 to play, and Penn State’s defense got stops on the Utes’ first six drives of the second half.

The victory was a fitting finale for Clifford, the sixth-year senior who finally added a memorable bowl performance to his slew of Penn State career passing records in his 51st game. Clifford also became the winningest quarterback in school history with his 32nd victory, passing Trace McSorley.

Franklin called a timeout with 2:30 left to allow a hero’s farewell for Clifford, who waved at the standing ovation from Penn State’s white-clad fans while his teammates applauded.

“I’m just so thankful for this place,” Clifford said. “I can’t put it into words. It’s so amazing. I just love Penn State so much.”

Rising passed for 95 yards before apparently injuring his left knee in the third quarter, forcing the Utah quarterback out of his second straight Rose Bowl early due to injury. Bryson Barnes replaced Rising for the second straight year, but the two-time Pac-12 champion Utes (10-4) couldn’t rally behind their backup.

Ja'Quinden Jackson rushed for 81 yards and a touchdown for Utah. Thomas Yassmin caught an early TD pass from Rising, but Utah was shut out for 32 straight minutes before Jaylen Dixon‘s TD catch with 25 seconds to play.

Rising, one of the most accomplished quarterbacks in Utah history, got hurt while being tackled after scrambling for a first down near midfield, eventually trudging to the locker room and returning later in street clothes. The Ventura County native also got hurt on a sack in the fourth quarter of last year’s 48-45 Rose Bowl loss to Ohio State.

Barnes threw his first collegiate passes against the Buckeyes after Rising’s injury and led an improbable tying touchdown drive before Ohio State won it at the gun. Barnes couldn’t recapture that magic in his second Rose Bowl relief role, going 10 of 19 for 112 yards with an interception.

The unusually gloomy afternoon in Arroyo Seco marked the end of an era for the sport’s oldest active bowl: It was the final edition of the Rose Bowl guaranteed to feature its traditional matchup between Pac-12 and Big Ten teams.

The game will be a College Football Playoff semifinal next year, and the subsequent playoff expansion means the Rose Bowl won’t usually control which teams make the trip.

In contrast to several wild Rose Bowls in recent years, including the Utes’ 93-point epic with Ohio State a year ago, both teams traded touchdowns early in drives with several old-school aspects with deliberate use of the run game and solid defense. Singleton even scored the game’s first touchdown on a run out of a T formation.

Yassmin scored Utah’s first TD while filling in for tight end Dalton Kincaid, the Utes’ leading receiver. Kincaid sat out to preserve his health along with Utah’s leading rusher, Tavion Thomas, and first-team All-American cornerback Clark Phillips III.

Penn State answered with Clifford’s 10-yard TD pass to Mitchell Tinsley, but Utah evened it less than two minutes later on a 19-yard TD run by Jackson, making it 14-14 at halftime.

Singleton then made his 87-yard sprint early in the third quarter, surpassing 1,000 yards in his impressive freshman season along the way. Only Saquon Barkley‘s 92-yard run in the 2017 Fiesta Bowl was longer in the Nittany Lions’ lengthy bowl history.

RARE RAINFALL

The game began under cloudy skies after a week of uncharacteristically gray skies in Los Angeles, and in the third quarter, rain landed on the Rose Bowl Game for only the third time since 1955. The visiting fans from two hardy cities showed little concern about Southern California’s version of bad weather.

UP NEXT

Penn State: Hosts West Virginia on Sept. 2.

Utah: Begins its quest for a third straight Pac-12 title by hosting Florida on Sept. 2.

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.