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BOULDER, Colo. — One final game - those are three words that, to the Utah football team, have come prematurely.
After eleven games of the 2012 campaign the Utes face the end of the season. While the Utes are winless of the road this season, they do head to Boulder where they'll face off against the struggling, one win Colorado Buffaloes.
The Utes also have some revenge on the line, because it was the loss to the Buffs last season that kept the Utes out of the Pac-12 title game. To go out on a high note the Utes must do three things to walk away with the win.
1. Start Fast
Colorado is bad, really bad. So to not give CU any confidence, Utah has to score early and often. After his career game last week against Arizona, Utah quarterback Travis Wilson has to continue that kind of performance through the air to bury the Buffs. John White is also about 130 yards away from his second consecutive 1000 yard season. With Wilson getting comfortable, White should be able to get rolling behind this improved Utah offensive line and get those yards.
2. Dominate on Defense
Utah's defense has been up and down all season. In a game against an overmatched opponent, Utah's D has to make some big plays. The D line has to force pressure, something they've improved on over the last four games of the season. If the D line can get the push they need, it will be up to Utah's back seven to make plays on the ball, specifically the linebackers. The linebacking core has been the most inconsistent unit on the defensive side of the ball, struggling to finish tackles and pass cover. With the youth at this position, this could be a good confidence building game going into the offseason.
3. Seniors need to lead
This is the first senior class since 2002 to not lead the Utes to the postseason. Star Lotulelei, Dave Kruger, Ryan Lacy, John White, and DeVonte Christopher need to grab this Utah team off the mat and finish the season the right way. Expect big games from three of those seniors specifically, Star, White, and Christopher. Christopher specifically has had a disappointing season. After a bounce back game last week, I expect to see the best DeVonte has to offer in his final game as a Ute, after five seasons on the Hill.
Whether Utah lucks out and gets into a bowl game at 5-wins or not, Utah's 2013 season starts in Boulder. If Utah can get a convincing, feel good win, that could start some momentum going into signing day in February, and spring football in March and April.
For the Ute fans watching this final game, enjoy watching two of the greatest Utes to ever suit up in the crimson, John White and Star Lotulelei. Star will be a top NFL draft pick and John White has been one of the best, if not the best, running backs in Utah history.
One thing to remember, while some fans are ready for this challenging season to end, it will be nine months until football season returns. So enjoy what there is left, because it's about to end.