SALT LAKE CITY -- Expectations were high for the Utes this season. They were picked to finished second in the Pac-12 South Division, with a real shot at winning a Pac-12 title.
They got off to a rough start, losing to Washington in their conference opener, and then they dropped their second game in a row with a loss to Washington State. But then they turned things around, with an impressive win over Stanford, in a game Utah Head Coach Kyle Whittingham called the turning point of the season.
“After coming out 0-2 and having our backs completely against the wall, to go into their stadium and play as well as did,” said Whittingham.” I believe they were a top 20 team at the time, to come in and play like we were capable of, and that's something were waiting for. We didn't think we had played up to our capabilities and that game seemed to be a pivotal game for us."
The win over Stanford started the Utes on a four-game winning streak, with wins over Arizona, USC and UCLA.
The Utes were in the driver's seat in the South going into a huge matchup with Arizona State. But Sun Devils won that game, and the Utes lost their two top offensive players, with quarterback Tyler Huntley and Zack Moss going down with season-ending injuries.
The team rallied together to beat Oregon and Colorado, and when the Ducks beat Arizona State it was official, The Utes were Pac-12 South champions.
"I think this was the year that we were more equipped to get it done more than any other year, in particularly from a depth standpoint, being able to withstand some personnel losses,” said Whittingham. “Our guys never backed down from anything, they just kept fighting, kept swinging. It's great to see them write this chapter in Utah football history, because that's what it is, the first South Division championship, and these guys did it.”
"It means a lot,” said senior offensive lineman Lo Falemaka. “Bragging rights for everyone else, all the other classes that couldn't get it done. This one is for us. This one is for the boys.”
“We feel like we're writing history in the Utah record books, and we're still writing it,” said sophomore wide receiver Britain Covey. “Just with everything we've gone through this season, it's just a testament to what type of team we have.”