After falling behind twice by double digits – by 14 in the third quarter and by 10 in the fourth – Utah rallied to beat USC, 31-27, last Friday. Quarterback Troy Williams capped a 15-play, 93-yard drive with an 18-yard touchdown pass to Tim Patrick with 16 seconds remaining to give the Utes the win.
No. 18 Utah is now 4-0 for the second consecutive season. The Utes have rallied in each of their last two games, this after stopping a potential game-winning two-point conversion by BYU on Sept. 10.
Put another way, it hasn’t always been pretty for the Utes this year, but they’re getting the job done and making plays when they need to.
“Our team has done a great job of that all season long,” Utah head coach Kyle Whittingham said on CBS Sports Radio’s Tiki and Tierney. “We’ve had some situations we’ve had to fight our way out of, and they’ve never flinched. That’s really a great quality to have in a football team – is a team that can handle adversity and just keep playing through bad situations and tough situations. So far, our guys have been able to do that.”
Utah is one of just three Pac-12 teams currently ranked. The others are No. 7 Stanford (3-0) and No. 10 Washington (4-0). The Big Ten, by comparison, has five teams ranked in the top 17, including three in the top eight, while the SEC has six teams ranked, including four in the top 16.
Whittingham, however, believes the Pac-12 stacks up well against anyone.
“I think we’re a very strong conference,” he said. “The operative word in our conference is balance. I think from 1 to 12, we may be the deepest conference in the country as far as just competitiveness. I think that hurts us some years. We cannibalize each other and play in conference games, which is another opportunity to put a loss on somebody’s record. What I’d like to see – and it’s been talked about – is some sort of standardization of conference play throughout the P-5 conferences in how many games you play and some sort of structure that is across the board.”
Whittingham, 56, has coached at Utah since 1994 and has served as head coach since 2005. He has helped the Utes become one of the top programs in the Pac-12.
“It’s winning and winning over a period of time. That’s the thing that builds your brand most effectively,” he said. “We’re coming off a pretty good couple of years: 9-4 two years ago, 10-3 last year and of course we’re off to a good start this year. So I think it’s a process. We’re doing everything we can to continue to be competitive in this league, and I think that ultimately is what builds your brand – winning over a long stretch of time.”
Utah plays Cal (2-2) on the road this Saturday at 6 p.m. ET.