After playing heart-attack football for the past 3 months, Utah finally found some breathing room on Saturday to close out 2014 with a complete and total domination of Colorado State in the Las Vegas Bowl. For a team that had played 8 nail-biters in Pac 12 play (yes, I'm counting Oregon in that group) with one blowout loss mixed in, Ute fans had become accustomed to either last minute heroics or late game heartbreak. They got neither against Colorado State as Utah jumped out to an early 14-0 lead and never looked back in a convincing 45-10 win.
Offensively, Utah opened it up early with some trick plays involving newcomer (for this game) Jason Thompson and seldom used Troy McCormick. Travis Wilson was on point early and Devontae Booker was breaking off 60 yard touchdown runs. The offensive line opened up huge holes all day and the Colorado State defense couldn't do a thing to stop the three headed monster of Booker, McCormick, and Wilson on the ground with 359 yards rushing at 7.5 yards per clip. The glimpses of the speedy McCormick are very encouraging heading into next season as he sliced and diced his way to 86 yards on 5 carries. The offensive line played as well as they have all season and Wilson was used in a very effective way running the ball. Colorado State couldn't stop the run and Dave Christensen knew it. So what did he do once Utah got the lead? Wore them out with the power run game. This was probably Utah's finest offensive performance of the season.
Defensively, Utah was susceptible to the big play early that ended up resulting in 10 Colorado State points, but as Kalani Sitake led defenses have done pretty much every single week, they adjusted and the Rams couldn't get a thing going after the first quarter, coming up empty on their final 9 drives. It was vintage Utah this season under Sitake. They kept the pressure on Grayson and company, forced turnovers and held the high powered Ram offense to under 300 yards. Nate Orchard got a sack in his final game. Eric Rowe played arguably his best game of the year in his finale. The future is bright for the Utah D. Now they just need to lock up Sitake.
We'll break it down in more detail in our season review, but this season was a wild success for Utah if you're looking at the wins and losses. 9 wins? 9!?!?!?!?! Who would have dreamed of such a thing? Not even the drunkest of John Madsens would have put money on Utah winning that many games. Finally, Utah looked like a Pac 12 team in completely outclassing every non-conference team they played and keeping pace with or beating every conference foe outside of Arizona. The transition is over. Utah is here.
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