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Utah football has proven this season that it’s not where you start, it’s where you finish.
The Utes opened the 2021 campaign with a 1-2 record but ended up winning nine of their next 10 games.
Now No. 11 Utah (10-3) is the Pac-12 champion for the first time and is headed to the Rose Bowl for the first time.
“For us, it’s a great opportunity for our program. It’s the next step in the evolution of our program, getting to the Rose Bowl. Most years, that’s what the Pac-12 champion gets to experience,” said coach Kyle Whittingham, whose team jumped up six spots in the final College Football Playoff rankings released Sunday. “It was the next step and the next goal for our program. It’s something we’ve been shooting for and had our sights on for a number of years. We’ve finally been able to get over that mountain and we’re very excited to have that opportunity.”
“We have the best fans in the nation. I just love the way they travel and everything they do. Even at home, they’ve been showing up all year,” said linebacker Devin Lloyd. “It was no surprise to me that they all showed up, and they were loud the whole game.”
Expect a mass migration of red to Southern California on Jan. 1.
After a less-than-grand start to the season, now it’s on to the Granddaddy of Them All.
17-7: Utah’s all-time bowl record.
11-3: Utah’s bowl record under coach Kyle Whittingham.
0-2: The Utes’ record in their last two bowl appearances.
From the archives
- How Utes landed in the Pac-12 championship game after dismal 1-2 start (Deseret News)
- Minnesota transfer Both Gach picking up where he left off 2 years ago (Deseret News)
- Utes get commitment from Brighton High’s Tyler Knaak (Deseret News)
- Cal suddenly looks formidable for ailing Utes in Pac-12 home opener (Deseret News)
- BYU women’s volleyball beats Utah to advance to Sweet 16 of the NCAA tournament (Deseret News)
Comments from Deseret News readers
“Fiesta, Sugar and Rose Bowl all in the course of 16 years. I doubt any other program can say that.”
— Spokane Ute
“Utah will play in front of 100,000 Rose Bowl Fans on the Biggest College Football Stage in the Land!!!! The game will draw 20,000,000 TVs. The most famous parade in the World…The Rose Bowl Parade….500,000 spectators…. Disneyland, the Beautiful Pacific Ocean, LA Rams, LA Chargers, LA Lakers and LA Clippers just down the street….The Pac12 vs the Big 10…100 year tradition…Ohio St one of the top 5 programs in College Football History…How exciting for the State of Utah to have its most Prestigious University and being part of the most Prestigious Conference in the Country, the Pac12, University of Utah representing all of Utah and our values….”
“It would be a poetic finish to a phenomenal season for Utah to beat Ohio State and win the Rose Bowl. Utah is playing with purpose and drive, and any team they play should fear them. Congratulations to the Utes, they’ve earned this! Hope you beat the Buckeyes!”
Dec. 8 | 6 p.m. | Men’s basketball | vs. TCU | @Fort Worth, Texas | ESPN+
Dec. 11 | 3 p.m. | Men’s basketball | vs. Manhattan | @Salt Lake City | Pac-12 Network
Dec. 10 | 7 p.m. | Women’s basketball | vs. Cal State Fullerton | @Salt Lake City | Pac-12 Network
Jan. 1 | 3 p.m. | Football | vs. Ohio State | @Pasadena, California | Rose Bowl | ESPN