Hey, I could see myself. I was the guy in red on the east side!
On another note - that Ty Jordan / Aaron Lowe memorial was something else. Always humbling to see the other team stop what they are doing to pay their respect, it was also cool to see the Ohio State fans light up their phones too. I hope this becomes a tradition at the U, not just for this year. If nothing else to stop and appreciate what we have and the community/family built around Utah Athletics.
My dad is a neutral party when it came to the Rose Bowl. He didn’t care who won and was razzing my 12-year-old son that he was going to cheer for THE Ohio St. But one thing he came away with was how impressed he was with Stroud’s accuracy. There were so many balls that were put on a dime - in stride for a receiver, throwing a receiver open, or on the fringe where the WR was the only one who could get it but still get a foot in bounds. That combo of accuracy + NFL receivers was deadly.
I know that there’s no “victory in defeat” in sports, especially college football. But, as a Utah fan, I’ve never felt so … good? Proud? … about a loss. The Utes left it all on the Rose Bowl field. I don’t even know what my question is. Just proud of my team. What a game. What a season. — Rick P.
Let me answer your unasked question for you: Yes, Utah gained a ton of respect even in defeat. It was a landmark day for that program. In the most-watched game in Utah history (16.6 million viewers, per ESPN), the Utes went wire-to-wire with the mighty Buckeyes in an all-time classic shootout.
For all Utah has accomplished under Kyle Whittingham, it’s struggled to gain a national foothold, even since joining the Pac-12. Part of that is location and time zone, part of it is being a newer brand than USC or even Oregon, and part of it is a byproduct of its conference’s terrible TV deals. The Utes seem to get a lot of late-night kickoffs and Pac-12 Network games. And Whittingham’s blue-collar style of football does not lend itself to breakout stars. To this day, Alex Smith, who played for Urban Meyer, remains a more famous former Ute than anyone from Whittingham’s 17 seasons.
But the Utah team people saw on New Year’s Day was flashy and explosive, from those fantastic helmets to Britain Covey’s electrifying kickoff return to Cam Rising’s 62-yard sideline dash to walk-on hero/pig farmer Bryson Barnes’ game-tying touchdown drive. The defense was … not so great, but playing a running back at cornerback against an offense with C.J. Stroud and Jaxon Smith-Njigba will do that. I don’t get the sense people came away mocking Utah’s performance as much as marveling at Ohio State’s.
Now it’s up to Whittingham’s group to build on that momentum. The Utes play a glamorous season-opener at Florida in September, and I’d expect they will be favored. They lose Covey and All-American linebacker Devin Lloyd, and running back Tavion Thomas could turn pro, but Rising will be back, as will defensive standouts like defensive tackler Junior Tafuna, cornerback Clark Phillips and safety Cole Bishop. With the coaching change at Oregon (not to mention Utah trouncing them twice), the Utes, for once, will be the clear Pac-12 favorites.
They checked off winning the conference. The next milestone is winning the Rose Bowl or reaching the Playoff.
Interesting. My BIL found the supplier for the replica Rose Bowl helmets and got me one early as a gift since I kept the faith in the season (had PAC12 champ travel plans in June and kept them after our start). I got it maybe 2 months before I got the one I ordered from Red Zone (which I received a few weeks ago). The earlier one has decals (TJAL, flag, 22, PAC12, Rose Bowl) at the back base which I like. The Red Zone one has the 22 in the Rose.