A win over BYU is season saving. Really, had that kick sailed through the uprights to end the game Saturday, I think we'd all be ready to write this season off as pretty much a disaster. Now, though, it's found new life and with a bowl game left, there is a chance for the 2010 Utes to establish themselves as one of the best teams in program history. Even if you account for their two lopsided losses to TCU and Notre Dame.
With that said, it was an ugly, ugly game. Maybe even one of the ugliest Holy Wars in recent history because neither team could find any semblance of a competent offense. Credit the defenses, though, because they came to play. But how much of their success was due to poor play calling?
But a win is a win and the way it ended made this rivalry game one of the most memorable and enjoyable.
The grades after the jump...
Offense: C - The offense was shutout for three quarters and produced three turnovers. Generally when that happens, you're not going to win. Especially when you rarely advance the ball beyond the 50 yard line.
Jordan Wynn wasn't awful in this game, but he wasn't very good, either. He finished the day 13 of 30 for 228 yards, one touchdown and an interception. Where Wynn stepped up was in the final quarter, delivering Utah a remarkable score on a pass to DeVonte Christopher and then finished the day with a huge 30 yard pass down the middle to Dallin Rogers - which set up a Matt Asiata touchdown.
Give it to Wynn, because he was not playing very well in the first half and he came back, after being pulled for Terrance Cain to start the third quarter, delivering some big plays for the offense. That was important because he could have wilted in that position and he didn't. Was he perfect? No. Was he bailed out on one of his interceptions? No doubt about it. But with the game on the line, he made two important throws and because of that, the Utes managed a miraculous comeback.
Other than that, it's hard to find anything to like about the offense. They finished with with 296 yards, with only 89 coming on the ground and yet, even with how poor of an output, they still were statistically better than BYU. If only by a slight amount.
Defense: B - The defense played pretty well. The Cougars had found some momentum on the offensive end over the past few weeks and it did not carry over into Saturday. They were just as bad as the Utes here - if not worse. Worse because they had four fumbles and only found the end zone once, which came on a short field.
Outside that lone touchdown, BYU was held to field goals the entire game. That made the comeback possible. But when the defense needed a stop the most, they pretty much got it, forcing the Cougars to take three instead of giving up seven.
The biggest play of the game for the defense, though, probably was when they stopped BYU on 4th and 1. It killed any chance for points and, as the final score indicated, even a field goal there would have been enough to win the game for the Cougars.
Other than that, with how burned the defense was the three weeks heading into this game, I was pretty ecstatic at what they were able to do. Jake Heaps moved the ball partly on this defense, but he could never really sustain drives. That's something TCU and the San Diego St. Aztecs had no problem doing against Utah's secondary.
Special Teams: B-plus - Joe Phillips' missed field goal aside, the special teams played well. I mean, the play of the game came on a blocked field goal. That alone makes the grade for this unit.
Gotta wonder, though, how much could have been gained out of Phillips' field goal early in the contest. It certainly would have changed the dynamics late in the game, but maybe even offered up some momentum in the first half. Instead, the Utes went scoreless in the first, second and third quarters.
Not that I complainin' because 17 in the fourth is plenty nice.
Overall, a good win because it came against BYU. No so much a good win in terms of play and look. But that generally never matters in the Holy War.
Winning does and for a year, the Utes now hold Holy War bragging rights.