PASADENA, Calif. — Utah's first appearance in the Rose Bowl was a memorable one for the Utes despite the final score.
In a high-scoring game in which defense was optional, sixth-ranked Ohio State rallied to defeat Utah 48-45 win in front of a stadium packed with Utes fans.
Utah led the Buckeyes by 14 points at four different times during the game.
After taking a 14-0 lead in the first quarter, it appeared Utah was in for an easy afternoon. But the feeling was short-lived as the teams combined for 42 points in the second quarter, giving the Utes a 35-21 lead at the break.
Quarterback Cam Rising played an efficient game for the Utes, passing for 214 yards and two touchdowns. He added 92 yards rushing and another touchdown on the ground.
A key play occurred early in the fourth quarter when facing a 4th and 3 in Ohio State territory, Utah head coach Kyle Whittingham chose to go for it, only to see tight end Brant Kuithe fall short of the yard marker. The Buckeyes took possession and went on to score, tying the game at 38-38.
On the first offensive play of the following series, Rising was injured and walked off the field after being sacked and slamming his head on the turf. Freshman walk-on Bryson Barnes came in and played the remainder of the game. After Rising's injury, Utah punted and Ohio State drove 85 yards for another game-tying touchdown.
But Barnes, who had never thrown a pass in a game before the Rose Bowl, wasn't done, leading the Utes on a drive that ended with a 15-yard touchdown pass to Dalton Kincaid with under two minutes left in regulation.
However, the Buckeyes were able to take the ensuing kickoff and drive down the field, putting Noah Ruggles in position to kick a 19-yard game-winning field goal.
Despite facing an Ohio State offense missing two of its top receivers, Utah had no answer for Jaxon Smith-Njigba and Marvin Harrison, Jr. who combined to score six touchdowns. Smith-Njigba set an Ohio State single game record and collegiate bowl game record with 346 receiving yards.
Britain Covey capped his remarkable collegiate Utah career with a 97 yard kickoff return in the second quarter, giving him five return touchdowns on the season. Covey had previously announced he will forgo his final season to declare for the NFL Draft.
Utes fans traveled en masse to California to see the Utes compete in the iconic Rose Bowl Game for the first time. ESPNs Holly Rowe said Utah fans made up 60% of the massive stadium.
Watch below: Utah fans, including governor, flood Rose Bowl Stadium to cheer on Pac-12 champs