Despite the two-score win for Utah, Saturday’s game against Arizona felt like a loss. The Wildcats, who has now fallen to 1-9 overall and 1-6 in Pac-12 play, have only won one game since October of 2019.

It’s true that Arizona’s one win came last week against Cal, and they did look alright in that game, but the fact remains that they shouldn’t of given Utah much trouble, especially after what the Utes just did last week against Stanford.

However, a win is a win, as Utah improved to 7-3 overall and 6-1 in Pac-12 play.

The offense was fine

Offensively, Utah looked pretty good, but there were a few missed opportunities that would’ve put the game out of hand much earlier than they did. In the first half, Utah punted the ball three times, two of which led to Arizona scoring drives.

Coach Kyle Whittingham stuck to the ground game, even without star RB Tavion Thomas, who sat this game out, most likely for rest. TJ Pledger got the majority of carries, running the ball 25 times for 119 yards and two touchdowns.

Other running back Micah Bernard ran the ball ten times for 34 yards and caught three passes that generated 60 yards for the Utes. QB Cam Rising got back into the running game, as he tends to, running four times, one of which was a designed QB run that went 11 yards for a touchdown.

Cam Rising, despite having some miscommunication with his receivers and missing some open throws, was able to move the chains consistently on third downs, which is really what kept Utah in the lead. He threw three big completions and ran for a first down on a key drive just before the half, capping it off with a two-yard touchdown throw to Brant Kuithe.

The defense was… not fine

Utah’s defense, which played at such a high level against Stanford, looked baffled at what Arizona was doing on offense. They allowed a fourth-down touchdown on Arizona’s first drive, a 43-yard touchdown run from QB Will Plummer.

Arizona was able to throw for 227 yards and run for 102, only punting twice in the game. The Utah defense seemed to adjust to what the Wildcats were doing, only to let up a big play on a missed tackle or to fall for a trick play.

Fortunately, the Utes defense was able to stand strong just enough to hold the Wildcats back. Most notably, they stopped Arizona on a fourth-down conversion attempt in the second quarter, and on a two-point conversion attempt that would’ve tied the game at 31.

The worst part of the game

The Utes were up 31-23, had just gotten the ball back after Arizona had kicked a field goal, and had the chance to put together a scoring drive to keep the Wildcats out of the game. With 11:30 left in the fourth quarter, Utah did the opposite.

They went three-and-out, only gaining three yards on a first-down run, and throwing two incompletions. The punt team was brought out, and this punt team let Arizona right back into the game.

The ball was long-snapped to the punter, and everyone who was supposed to be blocking the oncoming Arizona defenders began to either look for their parents in the crowd, pretend to be invisible, or simply fall over as a host of Wildcats blocked the punt and walked in for a touchdown.

Now the score was 31-29. The game was close. Luckily, Utah pulled it together and put the game away, but it seemed like Arizona was about to get their second win of the decade.

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