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Utah Utes Runs Back Zack Moss (2) will be brought down on Saturday, September 15, 2018 after a brief win in Salt Lake City.
SALT LAKE CITY – Another season is progressing well and another team from Utah is slowly out of the gate in the conference game. The goal of winning the South Division Championship remains achievable, but the 21-7 win against Washington on Saturday did not help.
If life gives you lemons, do not make lemonade. Find different fruits.
This is the same team as last season.
Washington beating Utah is no stunner. This falls into the department "Conservative Wins Utah Election." Apart from a victory in Seattle in 2015, the Utes have never defeated the Huskies.
Forget USC. Anyway, Stanford. The team that Utah can not beat is Washington. This makes the Huskies 11-1 all-time against the Utes, but more importantly 5-1 since Utah joined the Pac-12. Nobody did better.
At this point, people must ask themselves what they can do.
The hopes were high that they could win a title for the first time this season. That's still not inaccessible. But there is always something with them. Utah has a habit of losing important conference games right outside the gate. In 2011, the problem started with a loss for USC. The next year was Arizona State. The following year, Oregon State – a team that went 4-5 in the regular season – was the culprit. In 2014, the Utes opened a conference game with a loss for Washington State, after the start of the 3-0 season.
Things improved in 2015, as Utah to a 3-0 Conference Mark and five wins in the first six. Back to back November losses cooked their chances. Another good start to the conference was in 2016, when they opened with a win against USC before losing to Cal a week later. Last season, they opened with a win in Arizona, but promptly lost to Stanford, USC, Arizona State and Oregon.
They rarely get far in the schedule before someone beats them on the helm. What raises the question: Is "competitive" as good as it gets? Not if they want to achieve their goals. They are good enough to fill the stadium after selling 53 consecutive games. Kyle Whittingham has shown that his teams can compete with everyone, but no better than many others.
Utah is only 28-36 since joining the Pac-12.
Utah won eight games against Arizona State, five against USC, four against Stanford, nine against Oregon, five against UCLA, 29 against Colorado.
But only one against Washington – in 11 attempts. Their only victory is a 34-23 decision in 2015.
Just for the occasion on Saturday Utah wore quite black – as did the fan base. Yes, blackout time again. Utah came up with an 8-2 record in such games. If it meant hitting Washington, the Utes would wear polka dots and paisley.
As much as Washington's talent posed a threat to the Utes, it was her own harshness that nearly cost her the game in Northern Illinois. They allowed seven bags and revealed a serious security hole.
Utah has done better by ejecting two players for Saturday targeting.
U-Dub took 2½ minutes to take the lead. Utah opened the game with a three-and-off, while the Huskies went five-in-and-out.
On a night when there were forest fires around them, the Utes looked like they wanted to deal with smoke and mirrors. Her first smart game – a reversal to Britain Covey – scored just four yards. One later received only one.
The Utes looked very much like Utah: good, but not great, dangerous, but not dominant. Tyler Huntley made a selection when half ended. Although they were almost twice as big in the first half, they were still 14-7 in the break.
This is the M.O.
Keep the score low and hope for an insult.
You have half of the equation.
Meaningful downfield movement is still a problem for the Utes. The team, who finished in ninth place last year and finished eighth on offense, have returned to their old ways. The offensive coughed a fumble to start the second half. Washington was just before 21-7.
A break meant that Utah finished fourth in the second half at Washington. The game failed.
As much as this year was talked about an improved offense, it did not happen. Utah has two offensive touchdowns in the last two weeks.
Until that changes, Utah will stay where it is.