Jan 2, 2023; Pasadena, California, USA; Utah Utes quarterback Cameron Rising (7) warms up before the game between the Utah Utes and the Penn State Nittany Lions at Rose Bowl. Mandatory Credit: Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

Utah QB Cam Rising returning for ’23 season

Utah quarterback Cam Rising plans to play for the Utes in 2023 rather than jump to the NFL.

Rising, who will be a sixth-year senior, led Utah to back-to-back Pac-12 championships and a Rose Bowl appearance. Rising left the Rose Bowl loss to Penn State in the third quarter, citing a left knee issue that he dealt with for the final two months of the season.

Rising shared a 40-second video via social media to announce his plans to return to Utah.

“Bad Moon is back,” he said.

Head coach Kyle Whittingham said after the Rose Bowl that Rising’s knee injury would not be something he recover from quickly.

“It looks like it could be something that takes a while to recover from. That’s not positive right now. It breaks my heart,” Whittingham said. “He’s such a warrior and a fierce competitor. He’ll be back, I can promise you that, from the injury. Hopefully he’ll be back with us.”

Rising is 19-6 at Utah, bouncing back from a season-ending shoulder injury in the 2020 opener to lead the Utes to consecutive conference titles.

–Field Level Media

Jan 2, 2023; Pasadena, California, USA; Penn State Nittany Lions wide receiver Harrison Wallace III (6) makes a catch against Utah Utes safety R.J. Hubert (11) in the second half of the 109th Rose Bowl game at the Rose Bowl. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

No. 11 Penn State pulls away from No. 8 Utah to win Rose Bowl

Sean Clifford passed for 279 yards and two touchdowns, Nicholas Singleton rushed for 120 yards and two scores and No. 11 Penn State dominated the second half while defeating No. 8 Utah 35-21 in the Rose Bowl on Monday at Pasadena, Calif.

The Nittany Lions (11-2) became the first team in Rose Bowl history to have multiple touchdown plays from scrimmage of more than 80 yards in the same game. Singleton rushed 87 yards for a TD in the third quarter, and Clifford teamed up with KeAndre Lambert-Smith on an 88-yard scoring pass in the fourth.

Kaytron Allen added a rushing touchdown and Mitchell Tinsley caught a scoring reception for Penn State, which scored the first 21 points of a rainy second half.

Quarterback Cameron Rising departed for the Utes (10-4) due to a left knee injury in the third quarter and didn’t return. He completed 8 of 21 passes for 95 yards, one touchdown and one interception and rushed for 47 yards on 10 attempts.

It marked the second straight Rose Bowl in which Rising was knocked out of the contest with an injury. He sustained a head injury in the fourth quarter of the Utes’ 48-45 loss to Ohio State in last year’s game.

Bryson Barnes replaced Rising and completed 10 of 19 passes for 112 yards, one touchdown and one interception. Utah’s Ja’Quinden Jackson rushed for a touchdown, and Thomas Yassmin and Jaylen Dixon had scoring receptions.

Penn State was backed up in its own end in a tie game when Singleton broke free on a third-and-2 play for his 87-yard run, the third-longest in Rose Bowl history. Singleton was in the clear by his own 30-yard line en route to giving his team a 21-14 lead with 9:25 left in the third quarter.

Rising was injured on Utah’s next drive after scrambling 9 yards for a first down with 8:31 left.

The Nittany Lions went for the other big strike on the first play of the final stanza to take a 14-point lead. Lambert-Smith managed to get wide open in the Utah secondary and Clifford hit him for the 88-yard score that was the longest pass play in Rose Bowl history.

Penn State increased the lead to 35-14 when Allen scored from the 1 with 10:36 left in the game. Barnes and Dixon teamed up on a late 5-yard touchdown pass for the Utes.

Earlier, Singleton scored the game’s first points on a 5-yard run with seven seconds left in the first quarter.

Utah tied the game when Rising hit Yassmin on a 1-yard touchdown pass with 7:55 left in the first half. Clifford tossed a 10-yard scoring pass to Tinsley to give Penn State a 14-7 lead with 4:47 remaining until the break before Jackson scored on a 19-yard run to tie it at 14 with 2:38 left.

–Field Level Media

Jan 2, 2023; Pasadena, California, USA; Utah Utes quarterback Cameron Rising (7) walks with assistance off the field in the second half against the Penn State Nittany Lions of the 109th Rose Bowl game at the Rose Bowl. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Utah’s Cameron Rising exits 2nd straight Rose Bowl due to injury

Utah quarterback Cameron Rising departed the Rose Bowl game on Monday with a left knee injury sustained in the third quarter at Pasadena, Calif.

Rising was injured while scrambling 9 yards for a first down against Penn State with 8:31 left in the period. He was examined in the tent and then headed to the locker room for treatment.

Rising returned to the sideline out of uniform with about eight minutes to play in the game. He was wearing a bulky knee brace under his sweatpants.

Rising completed 8 of 21 passes for 95 yards, one touchdown and one interception. He rushed for 56 yards on 9 attempts.

It marked the second straight Rose Bowl in which Rising was knocked out of the contest with an injury. He sustained a head injury in the fourth quarter of the Utes’ 48-45 loss to Ohio State in last year’s game.

Bryson Barnes replaced Rising, just as he did in last year’s Rose Bowl.

–Field Level Media

Dec 2, 2022; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Utah Utes quarterback Cameron Rising (7) celebrates after being named MVP in the victory against the Southern California Trojans in the PAC-12 Football Championship at Allegiant Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

Cameron Rising, Utah relish Rose Bowl return to face Penn St.

Utah enjoyed its first-ever Rose Bowl appearance for most of last year’s game but arrives back in Pasadena, Calif., adorned with the unfinished-business label.

The Utes fell to Ohio State on a late field goal last year, and now No. 8 Utah will compete against another Big Ten powerhouse program on Monday when it faces No. 11 Penn State at the famed stadium below the San Gabriel Mountains.

It has been a recurring theme for the Utes (10-3) when they discuss being in the Rose Bowl for the second straight season.

Utah never trailed over the first 55-plus minutes of the 48-45 loss to the Buckeyes and sustained a tough blow when standout quarterback Cam Rising exited due to a head injury early in the fourth quarter.

Rising, who played high school football 50 miles to the west in Newbury Park, Calif., is excited about having a second opportunity to play in “The Granddaddy of Them All.”

“It just means the world,” said Rising, who has passed for 2,939 yards, 25 touchdowns and seven interceptions this season. “To go back to the Rose Bowl again, it just means there’s unfinished business that we want to go out there and finish.”

Despite last year’s loss, the Utes have an 11-4 bowl record under coach Kyle Whittingham.

And Whittingham sees returning to the scene and knowing the pageantry and buildup to game day being something that is immensely valuable.

“I think that’s always a positive thing,” Whittingham said. “It doesn’t guarantee anything. It doesn’t mean you’re going to play great or anything like that. But it does give you a reference point and some opportunity to learn from what you did well or didn’t do so well in last year’s preparation and apply it this year for the better.”

The Utes have won six of their past seven games, including two victories over Southern California. The second one was a 47-24 whipping in the Pac-12 title game at Las Vegas.

Utah All-America cornerback Clark Phillips entered the bowl season tied for second nationally with six interceptions.

Penn State (10-2) enters with four straight victories, and its losses were to two of the four College Football Playoff participants: No. 2 Michigan and No. 4 Ohio State.

Nittany Lions coach James Franklin is preparing for a tough task, as he is having trouble identifying weaknesses in the Utes.

“If you’re a true football guy, if you watch them, that’s what a true football team is supposed to be like,” Franklin said ahead of the first-ever meeting between the programs.

The contest is the final one for Penn State quarterback Sean Clifford, who is in his sixth season with the program. Clifford passed for 2,543 yards, 22 touchdowns and seven interceptions in the 2022 regular season.

The Nittany Lions saw star cornerback Joey Porter Jr. opt out of the Rose Bowl and declare for the draft. Receiver Parker Washington, who would have missed the Rose Bowl due to a leg injury, also declared for the draft.

Star left tackle Olu Fashanu is bypassing the draft and returning for the 2023 season, but he hadn’t decided whether he would play in the Rose Bowl. Center Juice Scruggs and defensive end Nick Tarburton both declared for the draft but will play in the game.

Defensive tackle PJ Mustipher was one of the Penn State players who elected not to opt out of the Rose Bowl.

“We don’t have a lot of opt-outs, and I think it’s just the magnitude of the game,” Mustipher said. “We haven’t been to the Rose Bowl since 2016, so it’s not easy to do, and I think guys want to experience what it’s like to go to a Rose Bowl, what it’s like to win a Rose Bowl and all that kind of stuff.”

Penn State, which has lost three of four previous Rose Bowls, has just two wins in its past six bowl games.

–Field Level Media

Dec 2, 2022; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Utah Utes quarterback Cameron Rising (7) throws the ball against the Southern California Trojans in the first half of the Pac-12 Championship at Allegiant Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Utah, Penn State to Rose Bowl as full bowl game schedule revealed

Utah and Penn State will square off in the Rose Bowl and Alabama will face Big 12 champion Kansas State in the Sugar Bowl as part of this season’s slate of 41 bowl games, which were finalized Sunday.

Teams were invited to their respective bowls after the College Football Playoff selection committee named Georgia, Michigan, TCU and Ohio State to the four-team playoff. No. 1 Georgia and No. 4 Ohio State will play in the Peach Bowl in one semifinal and No. 2 Michigan will meet No. 3 TCU in the Fiesta Bowl for the other.

As for the other New Year’s Six bowls, ACC champion Clemson drew SEC at-large Tennessee in the Orange Bowl, and No. 16 Tulane, the highest-ranked team from the Group of Five conferences, will go to the Cotton Bowl and play Southern California.

No. 8 Utah won the Pac-12 title game in a 47-24 rout of USC, allowing the Utes to punch their ticket to the Rose Bowl for the second straight season. Last week, the Rose Bowl had floated the idea of taking the Nittany Lions over Ohio State to avoid the same matchup in consecutive years, but that was rendered moot when the Buckeyes made the playoff field.

Alabama was ranked No. 5 in Sunday’s final CFP rankings, the first team out of the playoff. Kansas State moved up a spot to No. 9 after edging TCU 31-28 in overtime Saturday to win the Big 12 title.

Eighty-two of the 131 FBS teams will play in a bowl game, starting Dec. 16 when Miami (Ohio) and UAB kick off the Bahamas Bowl, and Troy and UTSA — which snuck into the final CFP rankings at Nos. 24 and 25, respectively — play in the Cure Bowl in Orlando, Fla.

The full bowl schedule is below:

Friday, Dec. 16
Bahamas Bowl: Miami (Ohio) vs. UAB
Cure Bowl: No. 24 Troy vs. No. 25 UTSA

Saturday, Dec. 17
Fenway Bowl: Cincinnati vs. Louisville
New Mexico Bowl: SMU vs. BYU
LA Bowl: Washington State vs. Fresno State
LendingTree Bowl: Rice vs. Southern Miss
Las Vegas Bowl: Florida vs. No. 14 Oregon State
Frisco Bowl: North Texas vs. Boise State

Monday, Dec. 19
Myrtle Beach Bowl: Marshall vs. UConn

Tuesday, Dec. 20
Idaho Potato Bowl: Eastern Michigan vs. San Jose State
Boca Raton Bowl: Liberty vs. Toledo

Wednesday, Dec. 21
New Orleans Bowl: Western Kentucky vs. South Alabama

Thursday, Dec. 22
Armed Forces Bowl: Baylor vs. Air Force

Friday, Dec. 23
Independence Bowl: Louisiana vs. Houston
Gasparilla Bowl: Wake Forest vs. Missouri

Saturday, Dec. 24
Hawaii Bowl: Middle Tennessee vs. San Diego State

Monday, Dec. 26
Quick Lane Bowl: New Mexico State vs. Bowling Green

Tuesday, Dec. 27
Camellia Bowl: Georgia Southern vs. Buffalo
First Responder Bowl: Memphis vs. Utah State
Birmingham Bowl: Coastal Carolina vs. East Carolina
Guaranteed Rate Bowl: Wisconsin vs. Oklahoma State

Wednesday, Dec. 28
Military Bowl: UCF vs. Duke
Liberty Bowl: Kansas vs. Arkansas
Holiday Bowl: North Carolina vs. Oregon
Texas Bowl: Texas Tech vs. Ole Miss

Thursday, Dec. 29
Pinstripe Bowl: Syracuse vs. Minnesota
Cheez-It Bowl: Oklahoma vs. No. 13 Florida State
Alamo Bowl: No. 20 Texas vs. No. 12 Washington

Friday, Dec. 30
Duke’s Mayo Bowl: Maryland vs. No. 23 NC State
Sun Bowl: Pitt vs. No. 18 UCLA
Gator Bowl: No. 21 Notre Dame vs. No. 19 South Carolina
Arizona Bowl: Ohio vs. Wyoming
Orange Bowl: No. 6 Tennessee vs. No. 7 Clemson

Saturday, Dec. 31
Sugar Bowl: No. 5 Alabama vs. No. 9 Kansas State
Music City Bowl: Iowa vs. Kentucky
Fiesta Bowl: No. 3 TCU vs. No. 2 Michigan (CFP semifinal)
Peach Bowl: No. 4 Ohio State vs. No. 1 Georgia (CFP semifinal)

Monday, Jan. 2
ReliaQuest Bowl: Mississippi State vs. Illinois
Cotton Bowl: No. 16 Tulane vs. No. 10 USC
Citrus Bowl: No. 17 LSU vs. Purdue
Rose Bowl: No. 11 Penn State vs. No. 8 Utah

Monday, Jan. 9
College Football Playoff national championship game: TCU-Michigan winner vs. Ohio State-Georgia winner

–Field Level Media

Oct 15, 2022; Salt Lake City, Utah, USA; USC Trojans quarterback Caleb Williams (13) scrambles away from the pressure of Utah Utes defensive end Gabe Reid (91) in the second quarter at Rice-Eccles Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Rob Gray-USA TODAY Sports

No. 4 USC must avenge loss to No. 11 Utah to seal CFP bid

The Pac-12 Conference championship game on Friday in Las Vegas offers no shortage of stakes.

No. 4 Southern California is looking both to avenge its lone loss of 2022 and remain in contention for the College Football Playoff, while No. 11 Utah seeks a second straight league title and a shot at Rose Bowl redemption.

USC (11-1) completed its best regular season since 2008 with a 38-27 vicrory over Notre Dame on Saturday.

The Trojans’ place in the conference championship game was already set heading into the regular-season finale, but USC remained alive for a first-ever CFP berth and quarterback Caleb Williams bolstered his Heisman Trophy case with three rushing touchdowns and one passing TD.

“We have bigger goals in mind that I’m a part of,” Williams said at Tuesday’s media availability about being in line to win the Heisman. “I do get a little bit more texts and phone calls … but like I said, trying to block out all the noise.”

Williams’ standout debut season at USC this year included a 381-yard, five-touchdown passing performance when the Trojans last saw Utah on Oct. 15. The Utes ultimately came away with a 43-42 win, however, capped when quarterback Cameron Rising punctuated the last of his three rushing touchdowns on the game with a successful two-point conversion carry. Rising also threw for two scores in the win.

USC coach Lincoln Riley was adamant during his Tuesday media availability that he does not view Friday as “a revenge game.”

“That’s not what this is,” Riley said. “We played a really good football game, as did Utah, up in Salt Lake. It came down to one play here or there. They got us that time. But this is not about that game. This is a new game, a new challenge, a new setting (and) both teams have evolved.”

Utah (9-3) is playing in its fourth Pac-12 title game since 2018 and is looking for its second crown in that span. The Utes dominated Oregon 38-10 in the Pac-12 championship game a season ago, earning the program’s first-ever bid to the Rose Bowl.

The prospects of going back-to-back looked bleak for the Utes last Saturday when Oregon — which owned the head-to-head tiebreaker for the other berth in the conference title game — led rival Oregon State 34-17 in the early fourth quarter.

Twenty-one straight points gave Oregon State the win, which — coupled with Utah’s 63-21 blowout of Colorado later in the day — landed the Utes in Las Vegas.

“As we all know, very difficult to beat a really good team twice, but that’s what our challenge is,” Utah coach Kyle Whittingham said in his press conference on Monday. “SC is ultra-talented, very efficient on offense. I know they’re not No. 1 in total offense, but they’re No. 1 in yards per play, which is to me, is more important.”

Indeed, while USC ranks fifth nationally in total offense at 506.6 yards per game — remarkably, good only for fourth in the Pac-12 — the Trojans’ 7.27 yards per play ranks third nationally behind only Tennessee’s 7.35 and Ohio State’s 7.30.

USC and Ohio State are two of the only three opponents that have posted 40-plus points against Utah over the past two seasons. The Trojans’ 42-point outburst in Salt Lake City was the most the Utes had given up since losing the Rose Bowl to Ohio State 48-45.

Utah kept pace with USC in October thanks in part to tight end Dalton Kincaid, who went for 234 yards receiving in the win.

USC running back Travis Dye rushed for 76 yards and a touchdown against the Utes. He is out due to an injury, but backup Austin Jones gained 154 yards to give USC balance in last week’s defeat of the Fighting Irish.

–Field Level Media

Nov 12, 2022; Salt Lake City, Utah, USA; Utah Utes running back Tavion Thomas (9) celebrates a touchdown against the Stanford Cardinal in the fourth quarter at Rice-Eccles Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Rob Gray-USA TODAY Sports

Utah RB Tavion Thomas to enter 2023 NFL Draft

Utah running back Tavion Thomas said Friday he will declare for the NFL draft, ending his career with the Utes.

The team’s leading rusher, Thomas said he will rehab a toe injury he sustained in Utah’s 20-17 loss last Saturday to Oregon but plans to return for the East-West Shrine Bowl on Feb. 2 in Las Vegas.

Utah concludes its regular season on Saturday at Colorado. At 8-3 (6-2 Pac-12), the Utes are eligible for a bowl game that Thomas won’t appear in.

It wasn’t too long before Thomas transferred to Utah that he was homeless as a result of “COVID and stuff back home,” in Dayton, Ohio, he told the Deseret News last year. And he expressed how grateful he was to the Utah community on Twitter.

“I look forward to getting back and dominating in the Shrine Game,” he wrote on Twitter on Friday. “Most importantly, I want to say thank you to every single person that embraced me here and gave me this opportunity that changed my life. I will never forget the moments and memories I have here and I will forever be a Ute.”

Thomas played at Independence Community College and Cincinnati before transferring to Utah in 2021.

Last season, he was a first-team all-conference selection after carrying the ball 204 times for 1,108 yards and 21 touchdowns — the latter tops in the Pac-12 and third among FBS players. He added 687 yards and seven touchdowns this season and played 23 total career games in a Utah uniform.

–Field Level Media

Nov 19, 2022; Eugene, Oregon, USA; Oregon Ducks defensive back Bennett Williams (4) tackles Utah Utes wide receiver Jaylen Dixon (25) during the first half at Autzen Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Troy Wayrynen-USA TODAY Sports

No. 12 Oregon has just enough to edge No. 10 Utah

Bo Nix, a game-time decision to play despite a sore right foot, passed for 287 yards to lead No. 12 Oregon to a 20-17 victory over No. 10 Utah on Saturday at Eugene, Ore.

Nix, who sustained the injury in last week’s loss to Washington, completed 25 of 37 pass attempts with a touchdown and interception.

Oregon (9-2, 7-1 Pac-12) and No. 7 USC (10-1, 8-1) are the only teams with one conference loss.

Utah (8-3, 6-2) had the opportunity to cut into Oregon’s 20-17 lead in the fourth quarter, but the Utes turned the ball over on downs at the Ducks’ 26-yard line with 6:54 remaining. Cameron Rising’s pass on fourth-and-2 fell incomplete.

Nix completed a 50-yard pass in the next possession but threw an interception, which was returned to the Utah 26.

The Utes made one first down, but Rising then threw his third interception of the game. He completed 21 of 38 passes for 170 yards.

Utah’s last possession ended with another turnover on downs when Solomon Enis dropped Rising’s pass on a fourth-and-6 at midfield with 1:57 left.

Nix set the tone by completing eight of his first nine passes for 70 yards. His 4-yard touchdown pass to Troy Franklin gave the Ducks a 14-3 lead with 10:28 left in the second quarter.

The Ducks’ defense limited Utah to 134 yards in total offense in the first half, but it lost safety Jamal Hill to a targeting call for the second time this season.

Utah’s offense responded in the third quarter with 110 yards of total offense while Oregon was held to 32 after amassing 245 in the first half.

The momentum shifted in the second half to Utah right away when Karene Reid recovered a fumble by Dont’e Thornton on Oregon’s first offensive play and returned it 11 yards for a touchdown to cut the lead to 17-10.

After consecutive three-and-out possessions by Oregon, Utah produced a touchdown-scoring drive of 86 yards on 13 plays that took seven minutes off the clock.

The possession culminated with Jaylen Dixon’s 18-yard touchdown run, which tied the game at 17 with 2:39 left in the third quarter.

Oregon put together a 15-play possession but couldn’t find the end zone after reaching the Utah 24. The Ducks settled for Camden Lewis’ 41-yard field goal to take the lead 20-17 with 11:17 remaining.

–Field Level Media

Oct 1, 2022; Salt Lake City, Utah, USA; Utah Utes quarterback Cameron Rising (7) changes a play at the line scrimmage in the first quarter against the Oregon State Beavers at Rice-Eccles Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Rob Gray-USA TODAY Sports

Another pivotal November Pac-12 pairing for No. 10 Utah, No. 12 Oregon

Utah and Oregon meet in a crucial matchup late in the season for the second consecutive year with Pac-12 supremacy on the line Saturday at Eugene, Ore.

The Utes routed Oregon 38-7 last November at Salt Lake City, effectively putting an end to the Ducks’ College Football Playoff hopes. Oregon entered that game as the No. 4 team, and a win all but assured a spot in the CFP semifinals.

Utah emerged as the Pac-12 South’s representative in the conference title game against Oregon, which won the Pac-12 North. The Utes beat the Ducks again to claim the title and a bid to the Rose Bowl.

Divisions were scrapped by the Pac-12 in 2022, with the top two teams in the conference placed in the league title game.

No. 10 Utah (8-2, 6-1 Pac-12) enters Saturday’s game as the higher-ranked team in the CFP. Oregon (8-2, 6-1) is rated No. 12.

The Utes have been a regular November contender, chasing a spot in the conference championship game in six of the last eight seasons.

“We’ve been in the hunt for a lot of years deep into the season,” Utah coach Kyle Whittingham said. “It speaks to the talent and just the competitiveness of our players. You go back and why do we have those type of players? Because our assistant coaches do such a great job of bringing in the right type of player into this program.”

Utah has won four straight games — three at home — including a 43-42 win over No. 7 USC on Oct. 15.

Oregon is coming off a 37-34 loss at home against Washington, snapping the Ducks’ eight-game winning streak after their opening defeat to Georgia, the No. 1 team in the country in this week’s poll.

The Ducks allowed 522 yards of total offense to Washington, including 408 passing yards by Michael Penix Jr. The Huskies converted 5 of their 9 third-down attempts and forced only one punt. They allowed scores on seven of nine offensive drives for Washington.

“What’s the hard truth? We’re not playing well on defense right now,” said Oregon coach Dan Lanning, who was the defensive coordinator at Georgia before hired to lead the Ducks this season.

“I don’t think it takes a lot of people to look at that and see it,” he continued about Oregon’s defensive shortcomings against Washington.

Oregon’s primary concern might be the secondary, where players have shifted to new roles on the fly.

Safety Trikweze Bridges was moved to cornerback. Safeties Bennett Williams and Jamal Hill together have played together more with Bryan Addison sometimes joining them on nickel packages.

The Ducks tried placing top cornerback Christian Gonzalez closer to the line and moving Bridges and Dontae Manning to the outside. Those experiments are likely to continue.

“Even though the result doesn’t always change, that doesn’t mean you can’t change your approach,” Lanning said. “And I’m going to continue to look for ways to change the approach as we move forward.”

Utah’s Cameron Rising will lead the Utes against the makeshift Oregon defense.

The reigning All-Pac-12 quarterback has completed 181 passes in 273 attempts for 2,225 yards with 19 touchdowns and four interceptions.

–Field Level Media

Nov 12, 2022; Salt Lake City, Utah, USA; Utah Utes running back Tavion Thomas (9) reacts after a play against the Stanford Cardinal in the first quarter at Rice-Eccles Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Rob Gray-USA TODAY Sports

No. 13 Utah throttles Stanford, earns fourth straight win

Tavion Thomas rushed for a career-high 180 yards and scored two touchdowns to lead No. 13 Utah to a convincing 42-7 victory over visiting Stanford in Pac-12 play on Saturday night at Salt Lake City.

Cameron Rising completed 20 of 33 passes for 219 yards, three touchdowns and one interception as the Utes (8-2, 6-1 Pac-12) scored the game’s final 42 points. Utah has won four straight games and stands a half-game behind first-place Southern California, which it defeated last month.

Devaughn Vele, Micah Bernard, Thomas Yassmin and Logan Kendall caught touchdown passes for Utah, which finished its home slate with a 6-0 record. Simote Pepa had two of the Utes’ seven sacks.

Tanner McKee completed 11 of 23 passes for 155 yards and rushed for a touchdown for Stanford (3-7, 1-7), which clinched a losing campaign for the third time in four seasons. Elijah Higgins caught seven passes for 105 yards.

The Utes outgained the Cardinal 514 to 177 and had a 29-9 edge in first downs. Utah controlled the ball for 34 minutes, 31 seconds while winning for the 25th time in its past 26 home games.

Thomas’ previous career high was last season, when he rushed for 177 yards and four touchdowns against Stanford.

The Utes began to pull away with three touchdowns in the third quarter.

Rising tossed a 14-yard touchdown pass to Yassmin to give Utah a 21-7 lead with 8:49 left in the third quarter. Rising also threw a 19-yard scoring pass to Bernard with 5:14 to play in the period.

Nate Johnson subbed in for Rising during the ensuing possession and he connected with Kendall on a 16-yard scoring pass to make it 35-7 with 1:37 remaining.

Thomas capped his big outing with a 36-yard scoring run with 8:32 left in the contest.

Utah outgained Stanford 239 to 91 in the first half and held a 14-7 advantage.

The Cardinal struck first on McKee’s 1-yard keeper with 3:40 left in the first quarter.

The Utes tied the score on Rising’s 9-yard pass to Vele with 12:49 left in the second quarter and took the lead six-plus minutes later when Thomas scored on a 4-yard run.

–Field Level Media