Right now it is currently 1:45 am as I write this. I got home from Rice-Eccles not all that long ago, and I just caught up on my Twitter timeline. I stopped checking Twitter at the game when Utah went down 14-7. Well, needless to say, talk about a rollercoaster for everyone involved in this game, and my Twitter timeline confirmed that.
In the first game back at Rice-Eccles since losing Aaron Lowe, Rice-Eccles was (mostly) full. Students on fall break may have cost a few MUSS spots. And it looked like it may end up being a track meet. ASU gets the ball to open the game and drives down the field, giving Jayden Daniels more passing yards in his opening drive than he did his last time here when he had just 25 yards. Utah then took the ball down the field on their first drive to even it up. It was a drive really dictated by Cam Rising’s legs, as he had multiple scrambles, one on a third and long, and the touchdown as well.
After getting the ball back Utah’s offense started to move the ball again, but after an overthrow from Rising to a wide-open Theo Howard for what would have been a walk-in touchdown, ASU picked off Rising a few plays later. ASU would proceed to drive down the field and take the 14-7 lead on a Daniels keeper.
Utah really stalled out the remainder of the half, going three-and-out, and couldn’t get the run game going at all. Before the half, ASU took the ball down the field again to punch it in with a Daniels touchdown pass to give them the 21-7 lead. Utah would make a push down the field and got to the 25 before the ASU safety went up and took the ball away from the Utah tight end (I missed who it was), or else there were likely points coming on that drive.
Ultimately, outside of that opening drive, it was a pretty ugly first half for the offense, and the defense got sloppy on the last couple of ASU touchdown passes. At 21-7, it was feeling like it was going to be an uphill battle the rest of the night.
Then the second half started.
Coming out of half Utah took the opening kickoff down on a drive similar to the one that opened the game, but the run game started to work. Utah would pull to within a score with a Tavion Thomas touchdown run.
ASU was forced to punt and Utah, again, drove the ball down their throats and tied up the game with a Brant Kuithe 20 yard touchdown catch. The funny thing about that drive was Britain Covey, after picking up a first down inside the four picked up a personal foul to push the Utes back 15. No matter as Kuithe made the play from Rising.
ASU put together a nice drive to follow up Utah tying the game, but a penalty and a sack pushed them back for a 51-yard field goal try that was missed, potentially tipped by the Utes. Then, again, the Utes drove down the field, and Rising found a wide-open Kuithe for a walk-in score to take the lead, Utah’s first of the game.
Utah forced one more punt on defense and then took the ball 82 yards, with some massive third-down conversions to put the game out of reach on a TJ Pledge touchdown run. Devaughn Vele had a massive one-handed juggling catch that kept the chains moving and really put Utah into scoring position.
So, after that 21-7 lead, Utah shut out ASU in the second half and scored touchdowns on all four possessions. Impressive.
Rising finished the game 21-of-33 (2 TD, 2 INT) for 247 yards, and 59 rushing yards, and one touchdown on the ground. Tavion Thomas finished the game with 84 yards on a season-high 20 carries. The Utes had six different players catch at least three passes with Vele leading the team with 57 yards.
How’s this for a cool stat: The last time the Utes eliminated a two-score deficit to defeat an AP-ranked opponent was in 2008 when Utah trailed 10-0 against No. 11 TCU, rallying to win by a 13-10 score.
Now the Utes sit at 3-0 in Pac-12 play, one game up on ASU (now with the tie-breaker) in the South, and one game up on UCLA, who comes to RES in two weeks.
Things are setting up nicely, but the battles will continue, including next week in Corvallis against a much improved Beaver team that the Utes will have their hands full with.
What a night.