SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4 Sports) – Saturday’s 33-28 victory over Washington was one of Utah’s biggest regular season victories since joining the Pac-12.
“It is big,” said head coach Kyle Whittingham. “Since joining the Pac-12 in league play, I think it ranks right up there at the top. To go into a hostile environment like that against a quality team after they’re coming off a bye, the deck was stacked against us, and our guys came through.”
The Utes now control their own destiny in the Pac-12 South headed into their bye week, meaning that if they can beat UCLA, Arizona and Colorado in their final three games, they will play in the Pac-12 Championship Game for the second straight year.
“That is definitely the position you want to put yourself in,” said running back Zack Moss. “We’ve done a great job of doing that. We stumbled a little bit early in the year, but fought back to get where we wanted to be from the start.”
Even down 14-3 to the Huskies, with Moss and Tyler Huntley leading the offensive charge, along with a stout defensive effort the rest of the way, the Utes knew they’d get back in it.
“We always knew we’re a great team,” said Huntley, who is fifth in the nation in completion percentage. “Things are going to go wrong, so we’ve just got to work through it. On the sideline, we were just like everybody keep your heads up, let’s do what we’ve got to do.”
“It felt good to go down there and beat a team like that,” Moss added. “They’re the reigning Pac-12 champions, no matter what their record says. It was really good, but that’s behind us now. It’s really good to get over that, but there are bigger things ahead.”
How big, only time will tell. If things work out, the Utes could end up playing Oregon in the Pac-12 Championship Game with a bid to the College Football Playoffs on the line, or at the very least, the Rose Bowl.
The Utes are currently ranked 8th in the latest Associated Press poll, with the first College Football Playoff Rankings set to be released on Tuesday.
“Nine games in now with three to go, to be able to be in a position where we have a lot of positive things going on,” Whittingham said. “That’s a good situation to be in.”
Now with a bye week before hosting UCLA November 16th, the Utes can rest up, get healthy and enjoy what they’ve done so far this season.
“It’s time to take a breathe, enjoy what you’ve accomplished so far, but understanding there is a lot of work to be done,” Whittingham said. “A lot of work, there’s a lot of football left.”
“I think today is a good day to soak it in, go up there and enjoy our victory meal,” said wide receiver Samson Nacua. “Then Tuesday comes around, go back to the film and start studying UCLA. We’re not done yet. Anything can happen in the Pac-12. We’ve got to win out these next games and make sure we can get where we want to get.”
“Just being able to know that we can do something that no other Utah team has done,” said defensive back Julian Blackmon. “It’s something that we want to shoot for.”