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Utah puts away the Buffs in the snow — 30-7 — finish Pac-12 season 6-3

NCAA Football: Utah at Colorado Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

Things didn’t start out great for the Utes. First, Jason Shelley was making his first career start on the road, the weather was bad, and Chase Hansen was ejected for a TERRIBLE targeting call. It was bad, just take a look:

Due to that call, and a defensive holding, Colorado was able to drive down the field to take a 7-0 lead. Not the start that Utah was wanting to see in a game that they NEEDED to win. After some struggles getting going in the run game, Jason Shelley threw on a cape and took over on offense.

Shelley looked good for much of the game, and he opened things up for the Utes, after a Marquise Blair INT. CU actually had the momentum at that time but Blair snuffed it out.

Shelley came out and hit Jaylon Dixon for a 61 yard monster call to get things moving for the Utes. He followed that up with his first touchdown pass to Samson Nacua, who made a great catch in the end zone to pull the score even at 7 a-piece. Things were pretty much a stalemate for the rest of the half, but Utah opened up the can in the second half.

After holding CU to another punt, we’ll get to the defense here in a moment, Utah went on to score on their next five drives, starting with a Matt Gay field goal. The next couple of touchdowns were just beautiful from Jason Shelley, Jaylon Dixon and Armand Shyne.

First, Dixon finally gets into the end zone, after being so close, on this 47 yard strike:

Then after another 3 and out for the Buffs, the Utes go 52 yards on 7 plays and really put the Buffs out of their misery with this Amrand Syne 1 yard TD run:

It wasn’t always pretty for the offense, but when they got their rhythm, it was a thing of beauty. Shelley threw for 221 yards and two TDs on 11 of 23 throwing. Shyne had 55 yards, the one TD on 17 carries, and Dixon had 125 yards and a TD on 4 catches. Overall the Utes had 390 yards, and really shut things down in that 4th quarter when the game was out of reach.

As for that defense, without Chase Hansen, they were ticked after that initial scoring drive. They held CU to just seven points and 196 total yards. The Utes forced three turnovers, and only 34 rushing yards. You can pretty much watch this GIF on repeat for Utah’s assault on Montez:

The defense also had six sacks on the game, which is the season high, 16 (!!!!) tackles for loss, and knocked Montez out of the game in that 4th quarter, but he had little impact on the game. The snow did negate some of Utah’s defensive speed, but it enhanced their toughness up front and they snuffed out almost everything CU wanted to do. Pick a name out of the front seven and they were on fire. Man, they were fun to watch.

The Utes now finish 6-3 in the Pac-12, and are in position to clinch a Pac-12 South Championship and a berth into the Pac-12 Championship Game. All Utah fans are Oregon fans, because if Oregon wins tonight at home, the Utes are in.

After the Pac-12 schedule that Utah had, which is the toughest in the league, they have earned the right to go to the championship game. We’ll learn more after the Ducks/Devils tonight.