At 4-7 with one left to play
The Utes won’t be bowling these holidays
It is enough to make me shed a tear
Oh well, I guess there is always next year
COMMENTARY – It all started out with so much hope – Jordan Wynn was back and supposedly healthy; John White was coming off a record year rushing, and the defense was touted as one of Utah’s best ever.
The glorified scrimmage against Northern Colorado only fanned the flames of high expectations. Utah then traveled up north to play Utah State … and the wheels came off before this team was ever able to build up a full head of steam.
It is only slightly premature to be writing a eulogy for a team with one game left to play. Regardless of the outcome of Saturday’s game at Colorado, Utah will be done and sitting home during the holidays. It will be the first time in a decade that Utah has not gone to a bowl game, with the Utes going 8-1 in their last nine bowls.
The 2012 season has been a fun ride at times. The undisputed pinnacle of the year has to be the win over BYU. In 2012, six different players have completed passes for Utah—Wynn, Travis Wilson, Jon Hays, Adam Schultz, DeVonte Christopher and Sean Sellwood. Nineteen players have caught passes (whom I will not even attempt to name). The defense has played well at times. The special teams have proven they can be explosive, with Reggie Dunn earning a number of NCAA records related to his 100-yard kickoff returns.
But like any roller-coaster ride, there were valleys to go with those peaks.
Last week’s game against Arizona was a microcosm of the entire season. The Utes fell behind 17-7, but then rallied with 17 unanswered points to take a 24-17 lead into the fourth quarter. However, the Wildcats ended the game with 17 unanswered points of their own to secure the 34-24 victory.
For the second game in a row, John White rushed for more than 100 yards (112, to be precise), yet the Utes still lost. Wilson even passed for a career-high 311 yards and two touchdowns in the losing effort.
I must admit that I loved the fake field goal that Coleman Petersen ran in for a touchdown. I was less enamored by the decision to attempt five fourth-down conversions, only one of which was successful.
Utah won the turnover battle by recovering two fumbles, compared to the one recovered by Arizona. But the Utes just couldn’t put the ball in the end zone when it counted and, on the flip side, had a difficult time keeping the Wildcats out of the end zone.
In the end, the Arizona game went pretty much the way the entire season has gone for Utah – brilliant play at times, less than stellar play at others, with Utah just not quite getting it done overall.
Utah ends the season on the road at Colorado. The Utes have not won a single game on the road this year. While it appears they should pick up their first road win in the season finale, that is far from a foregone conclusion.
Last year’s season finale at home against Colorado was supposed to be a gimme that would have propelled Utah to the inaugural Pac-12 Championship game. With nothing but pride to play for this year, I am hoping the Utes still have some heart and will go out on a high note in Boulder.
Looking to the future, Utah does have a number of good, young players who will be back next year. If Kyle Whittingham and his staff can recruit like a Pac-12 team, then the Utes should only get better next year.
Until then, Utah fans will have to settle for one last game. The Pac-12 has done its best to cultivate a rivalry between Utah and Colorado. I just don’t see this match-up ever stacking up to Utah vs. BYU. Nevertheless, the Utes cannot ignore the Buffaloes until they consistently beat them. This weekend would be a great time to start such a tradition.
Dwayne Vance is a sports commentator. The opinions stated in this article are his and not representative of St. George News.
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