WHAT. A. GAME. When it looked like the Utes were nearly finished and it would take nothing less than a herculean effort to slow down a USC team that was having their way for most of the night, Utah's football team dug down as deep as the possibly could to mount an astonishing comeback, knocking off the Trojans 31-27 following an 18 yard touchdown pass from Troy Williams to Tim Patrick with 16 seconds to play.
A star has been born at the quarterback spot for Utah. Troy Williams made throw after throw after throw tonight, many of them into tight spots, leading the Utes to 3 touchdowns on their final 3 drives of the game. 10 plays for 85 yards. 11 plays for 75 yards. 15 plays for 93 yards to close it out. Those are manly drives, all led by a quarterback that showed that he has the moxy and ability to put a team on his back. Utah hasn't had that in quite some time.
The receivers had big games and came up with big catch after big catch highlighted by Tim Patrick's game-winner. Cory Butler-Byrd looks to be in midseason form already, while Raelon Singleton had big grabs of his own. Maybe the catch of the game? Demari Simpkins going one on one with Adoree Jackson, who was draped all over him, and held on as Troy Williams fit it into a tiny hole. These guys can play. They just needed the chance to showcase their skills.
I don't know who called plays in the second half for Utah, but there's no way it was the same guy that did so in the first half of the game.....or the first three games of the season. Aaron Roderick (or maybe it was Jim Harding due to ineptitude from the former) drew up three great drives to close out the game. It helps when the players are executing, but the trust showed in the passing game, with a little bit of running mixed in, was the perfect formula to allow the players to do what they do best and get the Utes back in the game, and ultimately win it. Hopefully we see this type of attack going forward.
The stones on Kyle Whittingham are huge. 4 times the Utes went for it on 4th down, including twice on the final drive (neither time did they absolutely have to do so), and 4 times they converted. For a conservative coach to believe in his offense to do that over and over, that means that he has an offense that is more than worthy of that belief.
The offensive line finally put together a complete performance. Sure, there were hiccups, and Garrett Bolles late false start could have been devastating, but they got a good push in the run game and kept Troy Williams clean to the tune of zero sacks.
Not all was great in Uteland as the lack of linebacker talent was finally exposed. It was as if the Utes only had 9 or 10 men on the field at times on defense. Sunia Tauteoli was ok, but Cody Barton was a disaster. Morgan Scalley didn't do them any favors with his early scheme that neutralized the backers but putting one (or both) near the line of scrimmage where they were gobbled up. Chase Hansen played a linebacker role for much of the game, often playing at the line of scrimmage and forcing what should have been a fumble after sacking USC's Sam Darnold. Hansen just keeps getting better and better. Scalley struggled a bit overall as the Trojans picked apart his zone and ran with ease for much of the game. The three forced fumbles turned out to be huge for the Utes and saved the day, but Morgan's first big test did not go as well as planned, and the loss of Lowell Lotulelei midway through the game reinforced that.
Still, somehow, the Utes got the win. USC was the better team for much of this game. They made the bigger plays, they were more consistent, and looked more complete for 2 and a half quarters. Utah was better when it mattered most. The Trojans had won 84 straight games when leading by 10 or more points in the second half. That streak is now over thanks to a team that wanted it more, and had the players to make it happen. Maybe this is a new Utah. If nothing else, it confirmed that they are, at least for now, the best team in the Pac 12 South.