The Utes make it 8 straight against BYU

What a perfect way to end the best regular season for the Utes since joining the PAC12 conference. Utah beat BYU for the 8th straight year 35-27 Saturday night. BYU jumped out to a big early lead with momentum completely on their side. BYU freshman QB and lifelong Utah fan Zach Wilson had something to prove. He surprised Utah early with some difficult throws towards the sideline to his big targets at TE. Utah started slow on offense with some inaccurate throws from their backup QB Jason Shelley. BYU went into halftime up 20-0 after stunning a packed house at Rice Eccles stadium. Then Utah adjusted.

Utah needed a big play from their defense to get some momentum back and it came early in the second half with a pick six from Julian Blackmon. The interception early in the second half rattled Zach Wilson a bit and Utah capitalized on the opportunity. That came as a result of Utah’s defense bringing more pressure and attacking BYU’s offensive line more. The Cougs played very well up front in the first half. Their offensive line was routinely getting the better of this talented Utah defensive line. That all changed as the third quarter rolled on. Francis Bernard played almost the entire game for Utah against his old team. Utah was in their 4-3 defensive package much of the night because BYU loves their two TE sets so much. The emotions were clearly there for both teams on a frigid Saturday night.

The Utes also adjusted on offense with Jason Shelley taking a bigger role in the run game. Shelley was handing the ball off to Armand Shyne in the read option game most of the first half and BYU was ready for it. The Utes countered with more of their QB run game in the second half including the dagger TD run from Jason Shelley on the 33 yard QB keeper.

Utah does not want to play their in-state rival at the end of the season. As was the case this year, Utah had the PAC12 south locked up but then had to get themselves prepared for an emotional non conference rivalry game with no impact on their Rose Bowl hopes. BYU gave Utah their best shot and the game was awesome for the fans but Utah would have much rather gone into the Washington game with the momentum gained by decimating Colorado on the road.

Washington is a talented team that will make it hard for the Utes to throw the ball against their elite secondary. Utah needs to find shorter throws to get Jason Shelley some momentum early in the game. It appeared like Utah wanted to let it loose early against BYU and when Shelley got uncomfortable, there were too many 3 and outs in the first half. Armand Shyne needs to run harder against Washington if the Utes want to make the Rose Bowl. Tyler Huntley had a costly turnover in the first half of the first match up against Washington this year and Jason Shelley needs to avoid that. Troy Taylor got too aggressive against the Huskies in September. Utah got away from the run game too early when Washington jumped out to an early lead. Armand Shyne needs 25 carries against Washington the second time around.

9-3 is a great year for Utah. The season was a huge success. the Rose Bowl would be icing on the cake. 8 straight against your rival doesn’t feel too bad either.

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