The Utah Utes came up short on Saturday in what was the most important game to date. The Utes didn’t want to make it easy on themselves giving up a pair of Pick 6 Touchdowns before the fans had even sat down after the national anthem. Damante Horton Intercepted Shulz and ran into the end zone without being touched for 22 yards. Three plays later, a Schulz pass was deflected, (shocker, yes Ute fans, I said deflected) and intercepted by Casey Locker who returned it 39 yards for a touchdown and a 21-0 lead for Washington State.
Washington State was expected to throw the ball early, and often, and they did just that. Connor Halliday threw for 488 yards, and four touchdowns, and the Utes failed to intercept him. It was the first such game for Halliday without an interception, but that’s not to say he didn’t try. Utah had multiple balls go through their hands on what could have been interceptions.
The game looked to be an early blowout with Washington State taking an early commanding 21-0 lead early in the first quarter. You have to give Utah some credit for not quitting. The Utes looked to complete the comeback when they took over at their own 20 with 8:46 to go in the game only trailing 43-37. The drive however stalled out at Utah’s own 42 following a pair of runs that went nowhere by Kelvin York.
Washington State finished the Utes off when they punched in a final score with 5:43 to go in the game. Washington State looks to finish off a historic season against Washington next week, and run their overall record to 7-5 while the Utes head home for what is definitely the final game of the season in a battle for the cellar in the Pac 12 south. Utah (4-7, 1-7) has lost five in a row since upsetting No. 10 Stanford, and look like anything but a Pac 12 contender.
Sophomore quarterback Adam Shulz, a former walk-on, made his second start for Utah and for the second straight game against the 78th ranked pass defense in the country failed to complete over 50% of his passes for the second straight week.
Shulz completed only 21 of 46 passes for 347 yards. He threw three touchdown passes and after the first quarter seemed to settle in a bit. The heartbreaker for the Utes though was that he was intercepted twice for scores in the first quarter. The Utes could not make up the deficit, and as so many times earlier this year the turnovers cost the Utes the game.
The Ute defense wasn’t great, but still managed to hold the Cougars to 35 points. It was the two scores that they were not on the field that hurt the most.
So where do the Utes go from here? Certainly not to a bowl game for the second straight year. And certainly not to a .500 or better record. The frustrating part of this season for the Utes is that they have been so close in the toughest games. ASU, winners of the south beat the Utes by merely 1 point, and the Utes defeated North division champion Stanford. Certainly fans have the right to be disappointed, as I am sure the team is as well. Injuries derailed what could have been a magnificent season.
Enjoy the last game of the year for the Utes, because we don’t get to see Ute football for another 9 months.