SALT LAKE CITY — It was a wet and chippy night as No. 17 Arizona State tried to unseat No. 13 Utah on their home field Saturday night.
But the Utes controlled the game and managed a 21-3 win over the Sun Devils to extend their win streak to three games in Pac-12 play and to take one more step to solidifying the South Division title. Though there’s still a lot at play on the season, a win over Arizona State was an important step.
The following are a few takeaways from Utah’s win at home against Arizona State:
Defensive effort was lights out
Saturday night’s performance is arguably Utah’s best defensive performance as a Kyle Whittingham program. From top to bottom, the defense did everything it wanted to limit the Sun Devils, holding them to only 136 total yards of offense and 3 points. And those three points came off a Utah turnover that gifted Arizona State great field position.
On another turnover in Utah’s territory, the defense backed up the Sun Devils to force a punt and kept more points from getting on the board.
The defense put pressure on freshman quarterback Jayden Daniels and only allowed him to throw for 25 yards on 4-of-18 passing. Daniels, who was forced to scramble all night from a surging defensive line that included three sacks from Utah defensive end Bradlee Anae, finished the game with a 22.8 passing rating and nothing to show for the offense.
Zack Moss the GOAT
Saturday night’s game was expected to be a big one for the senior running back, who needed 55 yards to break the all-time rushing record and cement his legacy in Utah history. The Sun Devils did a good job of containing Moss for much of the night and kept him to only 48 rushing yards for much of the night.
But in perfect fashion for the Florida native, Moss escaped for a 32-yard touchdown run to break the school record and to seal a vital victory for the Utes. The play couldn’t have been more perfect for the running back that has fought hard over his four-year career at Utah to push the program to greater heights.
Moss still has a few other records at play this season, but he’s now considered an all-time great in Utah history. And in humble fashion, he still maintained that the win was a great accomplishment at the end of the game.
Congrats on making history Zack!
Turnovers hurt Utah
Utah controlled the game from beginning to end, but still managed four turnovers in the game — all from the Hallandale Trio who has been incredible for the program over the years. It’s unusual for one of those guys to turnover the ball, but for all three to do it in the same game is incredibly rare.
Fortunately for Utah, the turnovers didn’t doom them in the game, but it’s a bit concerning to see that many turnovers pile up in a vital game. If not for the previously-mentioned stout defense, Utah could have been in some serious trouble and risked losing the game.
While I don’t expect we’ll see that type of performance again from the three, it’s something to watch as Utah continues to battle tougher defenses the rest of the season than the Utes did in first half of their schedule.