Cathartic. Therapeutic. Freeing. Fun. Those are just some of the words that come to mind after Utah’s blowout win over USC in the Coliseum on Saturday night, the first-ever win there by the Utes.
After a season of turmoil, especially with the tragic loss of Aaron Lowe just nine months after the loss of Ty Jordan, there has been a dark cloud over the Utah football program. Those clouds broke, if only just for one night, against USC. The Utes will lay their brother to rest on Monday in Texas, but just for one night, with hopefully more to come, it was a great night to be a Ute.
The history has been talked about nonstop for the last few years. The last time Utah beat USC in LA was 1916. They had never won in the Coliseum. Blah blah blah. Tonight we saw a vintage Utah team, a team was aggressive and physical. It took the offense a couple of drives to get going, but once they did they found a groove. Led by Cam Rising’s 22 of 28 for a career-best 306 yards and three touchdowns, the Utah offense kept USC on its heels for much of the night. Tavion Thomas also had a redemption night with a season-high 113 rushing yards on 16 carries and scored a career-long 43-yard rushing touchdown. He also didn’t fumble. In fact no turnovers for the Utes. After saying the Utes needed to get some help from wide receivers Devaughn Vele had a career-high 84 yards on four catches (and his first touchdown on an inside flea-flicker before halftime, and Britain Covey also securing a season-high 67 yards. Theo Howard also had a huge catch for 42 yards, and Money Parks got his first catch in the end zone from 12 yards out.
All six of Utah’s touchdowns were scored by different guys. Brant Kuithe opened up the scoring with his patented sweep play for a touchdown. Parks had his, as did Vele. Thomas found the endzone, Cam Rising drug multiple dudes in for a score too on a major effort play on a 17-yard keeper. Dalton Kincaid also pulled in a touchdown pass after a great play-action throwback that left him wide open in the endzone. Maybe my favorite moment of the game was as Utah was kneeling out the clock up 16 USC called a timeout. I don’t think the staff liked that much so Rising out of play-action hit Vele for 23 more yards, and then instead of kneeling again, the Utes ran the ball at them. It was great to see that aggression.
On defense, the guys did a really nice job. USC and Slovis got some yards, which is no big surprise with all the wideouts they have, but Utah, especially in the first half, was bending but not breaking giving up field goal attempts. Drake London was a stud because he always is. The Utes really didn’t give up the backbreaking scores like we saw in 2019 where USC would just throw the ball up and a receiver would make an insane play for a score. This year they played off a bit to give up some dink-and-dunk stuff, and then would wait for USC to make a mistake, or would bring pressure.
Utah is now 2-0 in league play, and USC falls to 2-3. The matchup with ASU at Rice-Eccles is a big one, with ASU being 3-0 in conference play.
This was a performance that would have made both Ty and Aaron proud. It made this guy proud. It was a fun night.