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Utah Falls 10-3 in Pac-12 Championship Game

NCAA Football: Pac-12 Conference Championship-Utah vs Washington Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

I am going to keep this one short... The Utah Utes fell 10-3 to the Washington Huskies in the Pac-12 Championship game. The Utah defense made key stop after key stop, but the offense played their worst game in the Pac-12 era. Utah managed no points in the first half and only scored on a 53-yard Matt Gay field goal in the second half. The offense was without Tyler Huntley, Zack Moss, and Britain Covey who injured his knee on the second half kickoff. T.J. Green was also limited with an illness. Missing that much talent was killer for Utah against Washington’s elite defense.

Jason Shelley threw three interceptions, though the one that hurt the most was not his fault. With the game tied 3-3 and Utah driving, Siaosi Mariner dropped a pass that hit him in the hands. Making matters worse, he kicked the ball into the air where Washington cornerback Byron Murphy took in 66 yards to the end zone, scoring the lone touchdown of the game. Murphy would be flagged for excessive celebration after the play, which gave Utah their best field position of the night, but Shelley would again be picked off. Utah managed to block a Washington field goal attempt in the fourth quarter, but threw another interception. On their last drive of the game, Utah managed to get into Washington territory, but they could not convert a fourth and 12. But, the Pac-12 referees managed to elicit controversy, not calling Murphy for pass interference on the fourth down play when he clearly hit Mariner early.

In what should have been a showcase for the Pac-12, the stadium had only about 35,000 fans (the worst attendance in Levi’s Stadium by 10,000 fans), and the Pac-12 refs blew yet another call at a critical juncture. A game with no offensive touchdowns is far from compelling viewing...

Let’s end this with a positive. Utah was really close to winning the Pac-12 despite the toughest schedule in the conference and two key starters on offense missing. This was a young team that many thought was a year away. They should be the favorites to win the Pac-12 South again next year. They clearly had a championship-level defense and special teams, and they have recruited well on offense. Jaylen Dixon and Solomon Enis will be weapons for Utah in the future. Green showed some serious flashes as well, and Utah has another four-star wide receiver committed in Darren Jones. The future is bright even if tonight stings.