Nov 26, 2022; Boulder, Colorado, USA; Utah Utes wide receiver Money Parks (10) is congratulated for his touchdown by Utah Utes offensive lineman Paul Maile (54) in the second quarter at Folsom Field. Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

Utah wallops Colorado to keep Pac-12 title game hopes alive

Cameron Rising was 17-for-19 passing for 234 yards and three touchdowns, Ja’Quindon Jackson rushed for 117 yards and three scores, and the No. 14 Utah Utes beat the Colorado Buffaloes 63-21 in Boulder, Colo., on Saturday.

The Utes (9-3, 8-1) can clinch a spot in the Pac-12 Championship game against USC if Washington beats Washington State later Saturday. Utah stayed in the hunt after Oregon State rallied to beat Oregon on Saturday.

Micah Bernard ran for 91 yards and a TD, Dalton Kincaid had five receptions for 102 yards and a score and Thomas Yassmin, Money Parks and Makai Cope had touchdown catches for the Utes.

Alex Fontenot and Anthony Hankerson ran for touchdowns and Maddox Kopp was 14-for-27 passing for 123 yards and a TD to Frank Fillip for the Buffaloes (1-11, 1-8).

Utah took a 14-0 lead in the first quarter on TD runs by Bernard and Jackson, and the Utes opened a big lead in the second quarter.

Bernard carried four times for 53 yards on the next drive and three plays later Jackson scored his second TD with a two-yard run early in the second quarter. After forcing another punt, Utah struck again on a 41-yard TD pass from Rising to Yassmin to make the score 28-0.

Rising made the score 35-0 with a nine-yard TD pass to Parks with 52 seconds left in the half. Colorado used 24 seconds before punting again and Rising finished off a big first half with a 29-yard TD pass to Kincaid with three seconds left.

The Buffaloes intercepted Rising on the first drive of the second half and returned it to the Utah 11. Two plays later, Fontenot scored from one yard out. Jackson scored on a 66-yard run 48 seconds later to make it 48-7.

After another Colorado punt, Bryson Barnes connected with Cope for a 21-yard TD pass late in the third quarter. The Buffaloes responded with its longest drive of the game, 79 yards, finished off by Hankerson’s 23-yard TD run.

Jaylon Glover scored the Utes’ ninth touchdown on a five-yard run.

–Field Level Media

Nov 19, 2022; Eugene, Oregon, USA; Utah Utes quarterback Cameron Rising (7) throws a pass during the first half against Oregon Ducks linebacker Noah Sewell (1) at Autzen Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Troy Wayrynen-USA TODAY Sports

No. 14 Utah looking to bounce back at Colorado

No. 14 Utah will close out the regular season at Colorado on Saturday while keeping an eye on the out-of-town scoreboard.

The Utes (8-3, 6-2 Pac-12) have an outside shot at returning to Las Vegas for the conference championship game next week and a rematch against Southern California, but it will take a group effort.

The 20-17 loss to Oregon last week put the Utes in a position where help is needed to defend their Pac-12 title. If UCLA beats Cal on Friday, Oregon State beats Oregon on Saturday and Washington beats Washington State on Saturday, the Utes, Ducks and Huskies would finish in a tie for second place with a 7-2 record.

After a series of tiebreakers, the Utes could claim the last spot in the title game based on the strength of schedule of common opponents.

To make that scenario even possible, Utah must beat Colorado (1-10, 1-7), which is finishing up a disappointing season under interim head coach Mike Sanford. The Buffaloes could have helped the Utes last week but lost to the Huskies 54-7.

Utah quarterback Cam Rising would love nothing more than to erase the loss to the Ducks. Rising threw three interceptions against Oregon, and although he has a year of eligibility left, he took part in senior night Nov. 12, an indication he could declare for the NFL draft.

His teammates aren’t blaming Rising for the loss to the Ducks.

“Maybe us as receivers could have made more plays and made it easier for him,” receiver Devaughn Vele said. “The running backs could have hit the holes harder or the O-line could have blocked better. It’s a team sport. To put it all on him is kind of unfair. I view it as I need to worry about my 20 square feet. He’s going to do the same. I trust in him that he’ll do his job and I’ll do my job.”

The Buffaloes are a good candidate to restore Rising’s mojo. Colorado has allowed 38 or more points in each of its 10 losses and has given up 109 in the last two weeks. The Buffaloes are last in points allowed in the Football Bowl Subdivision at 42.6 per game.

The news around Boulder, Colo., isn’t so much about the last game of the season but who could be leading the program next year. Sanford took over for the fired Karl Dorrell and has gone 1-5 since, and he is a candidate for the permanent job.

However, a report from 247Sports.com on Monday said that Jackson State head coach Deion Sanders has been linked to talks with the Buffaloes and South Florida.

A few Colorado players expressed support for Sanders on social media, but the NFL Hall of Famer isn’t going to do any campaigning for the job just yet.

“I don’t want anything to do with that, to be honest,” Sanders said. “I’ve kind of seen that deal before where it goes that direction where there’s people that are politicking and working and lobbying and stuff like that. And to me, that’s doing stuff that I don’t think is appropriate.”

–Field Level Media

Oct 15, 2022; Salt Lake City, Utah, USA;  Utah Utes quarterback Cameron Rising (7) drops back to pass against the USC Trojans in the third quarter at Rice-Eccles Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Rob Gray-USA TODAY Sports

Cameron Rising’s late heroics lift No. 19 Utah over No. 7 USC

Cameron Rising followed up the last of his three touchdown runs with a successful two-point conversion carry with 48 seconds remaining, and No. 19 Utah handed No. 7 USC its first loss in a wild 43-42 Utes victory Saturday night in Salt Lake City.

Rising, whose 415 yards on 29-of-43 passing were the most by a Utah quarterback in 17 years, also finished with a team-high 60 yards rushing.

Utah (5-2, 3-1 Pac-12 Conference) rallied from a two-touchdown deficit in the first half to force ties at 28-28 and 35-35 in the third and fourth quarters, respectively.

Behind Caleb Williams’ 381 yards passing and five touchdowns, however, USC (6-1, 4-1) kept Utah from taking a lead — until its final drive.

The Utes took possession after Williams called an audible to connect with Michael Jackson III on a screen pass, which Jackson took 20 yards for a Trojans touchdown.

Utah responded by going 75 yards in 15 plays. USC’s Tuasivi Nomura met Micah Bernard at the goal line to prevent a Utah touchdown on third-and-1.

But on fourth down, Rising broke through for the score. He scored on another goal-line rush earlier in the fourth quarter and ran for a two-yard touchdown in the second quarter.

In a moment reminiscent of 2017, Utah coach Kyle Whittingham called for a two-point conversion rather than kick for overtime. The call failed at USC five years ago in a 28-27 Utes’ loss; this time, Rising found daylight on the conversion attempt.

Rising threw touchdown passes of 16 yards to Devaughn Vele and four yards to Dalton Kincaid, who caught 15 passes for 217 yards, including a 19-yard reception on a third-and-1 play during the Utes’ game-winning drive.

Both of USC tight end Josh Falo’s receptions went for touchdowns. Mario Williams led the Trojans with 145 yards receiving on four receptions, and Jordan Addison caught seven passes for 106 yards with a touchdown.

Addison came out with an injury in the second half. USC also lost linebacker Eric Gentry to an apparent ankle injury in the fourth quarter.

–Field Level Media

Oct 8, 2022; Pasadena, California, USA;  UCLA Bruins quarterback Dorian Thompson-Robinson (1) runs with a ball during the first quarter against the Utah Utes at Rose Bowl. Mandatory Credit: Kiyoshi Mio-USA TODAY Sports

No. 18 UCLA wards off comeback to defeat No. 11 Utah

Dorian Thompson-Robinson’s five total touchdowns powered No. 18 UCLA to its second win over a top-20 opponent in as many weeks, this time knocking off No. 11 Utah 42-32 on Saturday in Pasadena, Calif.

UCLA (6-0, 3-0 Pac-12) led from wire-to-wire, but Utah threatened all the way into the fourth quarter before Thompson-Robinson’s fourth touchdown pass. The 70-yard connection with Logan Loya pushed a 28-25 Bruins lead to 10 points, and Thompson-Robinson eclipsed Brett Hundley for the most career touchdown passes in UCLA history.

Thompson-Robinson finished Saturday’s win with 76 scoring throws during his time with the Bruins.

On the ensuing possession, Darius Muasau forced a fumble from Utah quarterback Cameron Rising. Jaylin Davies took the recovery 37 yards down to the goal line, where Zach Charbonnet finished the job with a touchdown carry.

Charbonnet rushed for 198 yards on 22 carries.

Utah (4-2, 2-1) made one final push to rally, but a failed conversion attempt at the UCLA 32-yard line on fourth down continued a game-long trend for the Utes.

Utah had four possessions that ended at the Bruins 28-yard line or better combine for just three points.

They included a Muasau interception of Rising on a first-quarter pass down to the 5-yard line, a drive early in the second quarter that stalled at the 5-yard line resulting in a field goal, a missed field-goal attempt from 43 yards just before halftime and the turnover-on-downs on the final offensive possession.

The Utes cut into the deficit in the final minute when Clark Phillips III produced a pick-6 for the second time in as many weeks, returning an interception 80 yards in the final minute.

The misfire was a rarity for Thompson-Robinson on an otherwise spectacular day. He completed 18 of 23 pass attempts for 299 yards and spread his four touchdown throws to three pass-catchers, including Jake Bobo, who caught a pair of scores for a second consecutive week.

Thompson-Robinson started the day’s scoring with a 7-yard touchdown run.

Rising went 23-for-32 passing for 287 yards and ran for a pair of touchdowns. Tavion Thomas led the Utes with 91 yards rushing on 18 carries.

–Field Level Media

Sep 30, 2022; Pasadena, California, USA; UCLA Bruins quarterback Dorian Thompson-Robinson (1) runs for a 4 yard gain in the first half against the Washington Huskies at the Rose Bowl. Mandatory Credit: Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

No. 18 UCLA puts win streak on line vs. No. 11 Utah

Undefeated and No. 18 UCLA welcomes a top 15-ranked, Pac-12 opponent to Pasadena, Calif., for the second time in as many weeks with 11th-ranked Utah’s visit on Saturday.

The Bruins (5-0, 2-0 Pac-12) scored arguably the signature win of coach Chip Kelly’s five seasons at UCLA, outside of two victories over rival Southern California, with a 40-32 defeat of then-No. 15 Washington last Friday.

UCLA quarterback Dorian Thompson-Robinson was electric, going 24-of-33 passing for 315 yards with three touchdowns and rushing for another 53 yards and a score. Running back Zach Charbonnet rushed for 124 yards with a touchdown, and wide receiver Jake Bobo caught six passes for a career-high 142 yards and two touchdowns.

The offensive onslaught gave UCLA a second-half lead of as many as 24 points against the previously unbeaten Huskies. The Bruins’ defense put enough pressure on nation-leading passer Michael Penix Jr. to force two interceptions and got into the backfield for the first two sacks Washington allowed all season.

“We didn’t think we’d go into that game and we’re going to shut down that offense for the entire game, but you’ve gotta get stops,” Kelly said this week. “That’s the key to what our defense has done.”

The Bruins’ defense draws another prolific offense this week.

Utah (4-1, 2-0) is putting up some of the most impressive offensive numbers in the nation at 42 points per game, 11th in the nation. The Utes hit their average in last week’s 42-16 home rout of Oregon State, a game in which Utah flexed its muscle on both sides of the ball.

Cornerback Clark Phillips III had three interceptions, including one returned for a touchdown, to complement quarterback Cameron Rising’s 19-of-25 passing performance for 199 yards.

Rising passed for three touchdowns, giving him 13 through the air on the season – a pace that, if continued, would be the most from any Utah quarterback since Alex Smith threw for 32 in a Heisman Trophy-contending 2004 season.

Rising and Thompson-Robinson, both passing for three touchdowns while rushing for a fourth last week, continued a season-long parallel in their production.

The duo has attempted almost an identical number of passes – 140 from Thompson-Robinson, 139 from Rising – gone for 1,211 (Thompson-Robinson) and 1,153 (Rising) passing yards and are at per-attempt clips of 8.7 and 8.3 yards respectively.

The dual threats also have put up a high volume of touchdowns while limiting interceptions. Thompson-Robinson has 11 passing scores and one pick thrown, while Rising has thrown just two interceptions.

“You can see him getting better and better. He’s playing his best football right now, as far as my vantage point,” Utah coach Kyle Whittingham said about Thompson-Robinson. “Chip has done a great job of developing. Not that (Thompson-Robinson) was not good before, but he’s really taken his game to another level.”

Thompson-Robinson’s play this season is a continuation to his strong finish to 2021. He scored nine total touchdowns – seven passing and two rushing – over UCLA’s last two games a season ago. He accounted for six total TDs in a victory against USC alone.

And the Bruins have flourished right along with their quarterback, carrying a winning streak of eight games – a program-best since 2005 – into Saturday. The last UCLA defeat? At Utah 44-24 on Oct. 30 last season.

Adding a ninth-consecutive overall victory for the Bruins means ending a different streak. Utah has won the last five meetings between the teams since 2016 and has not lost to UCLA inside of the Rose Bowl since 2012.

“I’m very aware,” Thompson-Robinson said of the losing streak to the Utes. “I circled about three or four games before the start of the season, Utah being one of them.”

–Field Level Media

Oct 1, 2022; Salt Lake City, Utah, USA; Utah Utes wide receiver Jaylen Dixon (25) catches a touchdown pass against Oregon State Beavers linebacker Cade Brownholtz (29) in the first quarter at Rice-Eccles Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Rob Gray-USA TODAY Sports

No. 12 Utah proves to be too much for Oregon State

Cameron Rising totaled four touchdowns, Clark Phillips III intercepted three passes, and Utah’s red-zone defense stepped up to power the No. 12 Utes to a 42-16 Pac-12 Conference win over visiting Oregon State on Saturday at Salt Lake City.

Utah (4-1, 2-0 Pac-12) jumped to a 21-7 lead early second quarter on a pair of Rising touchdowns: A 19-yard pass to Jaylen Dixon and a 24-yard run for the quarterback’s first rushing score of the season. Those scores bookended a Phillips interception of Oregon State’s Chance Nolan that was returned for a TD.

The 38-yard scoring return was Phillips’ second interception of Nolan in the first quarter, leading to the quarterback’s replacement by freshman Ben Gulbranson.

Oregon State (3-2, 0-2) mounted three consecutive drives with Gulbranson behind center, but could not reach the end zone. Utah’s defense allowed only a trio of Atticus Sappington field goals.

The Beavers moved into the red zone a fourth time and were threatening at the 8-yard line in the third quarter, but Gulbranson was intercepted by R.J. Hubert in the end zone. Hubert returned the pick 70 yards to change the completely of the game.

Utah capitalized on the short field with Dixon carrying for a 22-yard score, changing a potential one-possession game into a 35-16 lead over the course of three snaps.

The Utes defense then made a fourth-down stop on the ensuing Oregon State drive, and Rising punctuated his standout day with a 4-yard touchdown pass to Dalton Kincaid six plays later.

Rising completed 19-of-25 passes for 199 yards, spreading his three scoring tosses to three different targets. Devaughn Vele, who had a game-high 94 receiving yards on seven catches, hauled in his 16-yard score from Rising in the third quarter.

Rising also rushed for a game-high for 73 yards on seven carries. Phillips capped his day stymying yet another Oregon State red-zone opportunity with an interception of Gulbranson in the fourth quarter.

–Field Level Media

June 2, 2022; Tempe, Arizona; USA; ASU assistant coach Shaun Aguano watches teams compete during a 7-on 7 tournament, an ASU High School Football Showcase.

High School Football Asu High School Football Showcase

New-look Arizona State has tough task vs. No. 13 Utah

The first game for Arizona State following the firing of Herm Edwards as head coach will take place Saturday when the Sun Devils host No. 13 Utah in the Pac-12 opener for both schools.

Shaun Aguano, Arizona State’s running backs coach, was named the interim head coach Sunday after Edwards was terminated with the Sun Devils 1-2 following last week’s 30-21 loss at home against Eastern Michigan.

It was the first win by a Mid-American Conference team over a Pac-12 team in a regular-season game.

“Our kids and our coaches have been through a lot in the last 24 hours,” Aguano said Monday. “My focus now is the next nine games. How do I inspire these guys to play fast, physical football? That’s my No. 1. Making sure I take care of the kids, that’s the most important thing for me.”

Aguano, a former high school coach in the Phoenix area, added that the Sun Devils had a player-led meeting “that went very well and they’re all in.”

Edwards went 26-20 at Arizona State after he was hired in 2018.

His eventual permanent replacement will be the Sun Devils’ fifth head coach since Kyle Whittingham was hired at Utah in 2005.

Whittingham does not expect significant strategy changes from Arizona State with Aguano taking over.

“Herm put a lot of faith in his coordinators to do their thing and I don’t think we’ll see a lot of change based on the head coach as far as schematics in one week,” Whittingham said. “Now if they had a bye week maybe you’d see more of that, but just going from Saturday to Saturday there isn’t a whole lot you can change in that period of time.”

Utah (2-1) enters conference play leading the Pac-12 in passing yards allowed per game (90.0), team passing efficiency defense (80.85) and total defense (236.3).

The Utes also are the conference’s top rushing team at 216.7 yards a game led by Tavion Thomas’ 232 yards on 50 carries with four touchdowns.

LSU transfer Chris Curry had a season-ending foot injury in the 35-7 win over visiting San Diego State on Saturday. Curry had 81 yards on 12 carries with a touchdown this season.

“It is too bad about Chris. He is a great teammate, a great kid,” Whittingham said. “The silver lining is he will be back next year. Oddly enough, I guess he had that same injury in high school. We expect a full return to health and 100 percent ready to play football again.”

Arizona State’s defense allowed Eastern Michigan’s Samson Evans to gain a career-high 258 yards on 36 carries with a touchdown.

Utah has shown balance on offense with quarterback Cameron Rising tied for No. 16 in the FBS and second in the Pac-12 in touchdown passes with eight. He ranks fourth in the conference in passing efficiency (164.3) and total offense (261.0) and fifth in completion percentage (.671).

Arizona State quarterback Emory Jones, a transfer from Florida, has yet to throw an interception this season in 74 attempts. He has completed 60.8 percent of his passes for 557 yards and two touchdowns.

Wyoming transfer Xazavian Valladay has rushed for 361 yards on 52 carries with four touchdowns. He has rushed for at least 100 yards in his first three games with the Sun Devils.

–Field Level Media

Sep 10, 2022; Salt Lake City, Utah, USA; Utah Utes linebacker Lander Barton (20) prepares to sack Southern Utah Thunderbirds quarterback Justin Miller (12) in the second quarter at Rice-Eccles Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Rob Gray-USA TODAY Sports

Cam Rising throws 3 TDs as No. 13 Utah steamrolls Southern Utah

Cam Rising threw for 254 yards and three touchdowns to lead No. 13 Utah to a 73-7 victory over Southern Utah on Saturday in Salt Lake City.

Dalton Kincaid added 107 yards and two touchdowns on seven receptions. Tavion Thomas also ran for a pair of touchdowns to help the Utes notch their first win of the season.

Utah smothered Southern Utah on both sides of the ball.

The Utes racked up 599 yards and 31 first downs. They scored on nine consecutive drives from the first quarter to the fourth quarter. Utah finished with its most points in a game since beating UTEP 82-6 in 1973.

Southern Utah generated just four first downs and 85 yards. The Thunderbirds averaged 1.9 yards on 44 plays. Utah scored 14 points off two Southern Utah turnovers.

Thomas ran 13 yards to cap off Utah’s opening drive and put the Utes up 7-0. Utah had a short field after Southern Utah did an onside kick on the opening kickoff and an illegal touching penalty gave the Utes the ball at the Thunderbirds’ 44 yard line.

Southern Utah evened it at 7-7 later in the first quarter. Thomas fumbled and Rodrick Ward pounced on the ball at the Utes’ 28. Grady Robison scored on a 28-yard QB run one play later.

Utah broke open the game early in the second quarter. Thomas put the Utes back in front with his second touchdown on a 7-yard run. Then Chris Curry scored on a 12-yard dash to extend Utah’s lead to 21-7. Junior Tafuna intercepted a tipped pass at the Southern Utah 18 to set up Curry’s touchdown.

Kincaid punctuated back-to-back drives with touchdown catches that extended Utah’s lead to 45-7 by halftime.

The Utes ran up 38 points and 250 yards in the second quarter alone while averaging 10.9 yards per play in that stretch.

–Field Level Media

Sep 3, 2022; Gainesville, Florida, USA; Utah Utes quarterback Cameron Rising (7) calls a play against the Florida Gators during the second half at Steve Spurrier-Florida Field. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

No. 13 Utes look for increased efficiency vs. Southern Utah

Doomed in the season opener by going cold in the red zone, Utah is fighting for increased efficiency Saturday when they host Southern Utah in Salt Lake City.

The No. 13 Utes fell 29-26 to unranked Florida when they struggled to finish off drives inside the 20-yard line. Utah (0-1) got into the red zone six times in the game while rolling up 446 yards of offense but scored just the three touchdowns.

Two of those failures proved quite costly.

On Utah’s opening second-half drive, the Utes drove to the Florida 1-yard line and were stuffed goal line on three consecutive plays, including fourth down. Then, on Utah’s final drive of the game, Cam Rising drove the Utes to the Florida 6 with a chance to win in the final minute – or at least send the game into overtime with a field goal – when he was intercepted in the end zone.

“Had we been productive in the red zone, we win the game,” Utah coach Kyle Whittingham said at his Monday press conference. “I don’t think there’s any doubt about that. We were in the red zone six times. Only came away with three touchdowns and that’s not good enough.”

Rising endured some uncharacteristic struggles, which factored into some of those red-zone issues. The junior quarterback forced plays and made several bad reads. He also relied too heavily on his top receiver Brant Kuithe.

Rising ultimately threw for 216 yards and a touchdown on 22-of-32 passing. Nearly half of the receiving yards came from Kuithe, who gained 105 yards on a career-high nine receptions. Rising also carried seven times for 91 yards.

Whittingham said Utah needs to spread the ball around more for the Utes to have more success in the passing game.

“We’d like to see more production on the outside,” Whittingham said. “Devaughn Vele needs to have more of a presence in the game. Credit the Florida (defensive backs). They’re quick, fast — those corners are outstanding. That’s as good of personnel as we may see all year long, maybe the best.”

Southern Utah showed signs the program might be turning a corner this season. The Thunderbirds opened their season under new head coach DeLane Fitzgerald with a resounding 44-13 victory over St. Thomas in their season opener.

SUU (1-0) is coming off back-to-back one-win seasons and has won just six games over the last four seasons after earning a share of the 2017 Big Sky Conference title. The Thunderbirds moved from the Big Sky to the Western Athletic Conference in July.

Against St. Thomas, Justin Miller threw for 364 yards and three touchdowns on 23-of-35 passing.

Defensively, the T-Birds held St. Thomas in check after giving up a touchdown in two plays on the opening drive and went on to win their season opener for the first time since 2013.

“The story of the game is four turnovers to zero turnovers,” Fitzgerald said. “That is the difference in that football game.”

This marks just the second game between the two in-state foes. Utah dominated Southern Utah to open the 2016 season, 24-0.

–Field Level Media

Jul 29, 2022; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Utah Utes coach Kyle Whittingham speaks during Pac-12 Media Day at Novo Theater. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Utah to honor late players with custom helmets

The Utah Utes will honor late cornerback Aaron Lowe and running back Ty Jordan with custom helmets to be worn during the team’s 2022 campaign.

Lowe was killed during a house-party shooting in 2021, and Jordan, who was Pac-12 Offensive Freshman of the Year in 2020, died on Christmas in 2020 from an accidental self-inflicted gunshot wound.

Utah retired both players’ number last season — No. 22 — and came up with the motto “Be 22% better” to honor them.

“It brought us together in a way that I don’t know what could have been more powerful,” coach Kyle Whittingham said in 2021. “It unified us and gave us all a cause.”

The helmets, which feature depictions of both Lowe and Jordan on the sides, will be worn for the first time on Oct. 25 when the Utes face Southern California.

–Field Level Media