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No. 14 Utah rolls to 63-21 win over outmatched Colorado in regular-season finale


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BOULDER, Colo. โ€” Utah was already up 35-0 with 28 seconds left in the first half, but head coach Kyle Whittingham wanted more.

So quarterback Cameron Rising obliged.

Rising connected with receiver Money Parks for an 8-yard catch, and then found tight end Dalton Kincaid for a 33-yard reception that was followed by a 29-yard touchdown catch in the back of the end zone to cap off a dominant first-half performance in 26 seconds.

Utah rolled to 379 total yards of offense in the first half en route to a 63-21 win over Colorado to end the regular season with a 9-3 record and to keep its chaotic hopes for a Pac-12 championship game berth alive amid chaos Saturday afternoon.

Coming into the game, Utah needed plenty of results to go its way to open the backdoor to the championship game. No. 21 Oregon State helped Utah out in the most pivotal of games when it erased a 31-10 deficit with 28 unanswered points to hold off the ninth-ranked Ducks 38-34.

The Beavers defeated the Ducks with only six completed passes, shifting eyes on the Pac-12 championship game berth between Oregon, Utah and Washington to the Huskies' Apple Cup decider against Washington State. If Washington wins, the Utes will advance to back-to-back conference title games.

"Obviously, with what's transpired, we're in the hunt," Whittingham said. "We'll see what happens tonight. Three things have happened, four had to happen. We've got one to go tonight, and we'll be rooting hard for the Huskies and see where it takes us. If Huskies win, we'll gear up for the game next weekend; and if not, then we'll figure out what's next."

"We'll just see how the cards unfold right there for us, but so far, so good," Rising added.

Rising finished the day throwing for 234 yards and three touchdowns on 17-of-19 passing in two quarters of action before sitting out the second half. Backup Bryson Barnes filled in for Rising in the second half and finished throwing for 45 yards and a touchdown with an interception on 4-of-4 passing. He added 62 on the ground in mop-up duty.

The highlight of the first half was when tight end Thomas Yassmin hurdled a defender and broke a tackle as he continued down field for a 41-yard touchdown to give Utah a 28-0 lead in the second quarter.

The backups added to the rout in the second half and Utah finished with 662 total yards of offense, including a 66-yard rushing touchdown by Ja'Quinden Jackson in the third quarter. Jackson led the team in rushing with 117 yards โ€” his first over 100 yards this season โ€” and three rushing touchdowns. Micah Bernard added 91 yards and a touchdown on 12 carries.

Utah rushed for 383 yards in an all-around dominant performance in the run game.

"Really a dominating performance by our guys โ€” very proud of the way they came out and played," Whittingham said. "Really good teams finish things the right way, and we definitely finished the regular season the right way.

"We ran the football with a lot of purpose and violence and anger โ€” the backs were really hitting it up in there."

While Utah's offense put on an efficient performance that started out with a three-and-out series before reeling off six first-half touchdowns, it was Utah's defense that kept a Colorado offense in check.

The Buffaloes started freshman Maddox Kopp, who hadn't taken a snap all season and was the fifth-string quarterback at the beginning of the season, but the team couldn't get anything going against Utah's defense. Colorado was held to 0 total yards of offense in the first quarter and only 18 total yards by halftime.

Kopp was the fourth quarterback to start for Colorado this season, tying only Northern Illinois and Rutgers to use four quarterbacks this season.

Colorado found the end zone at the beginning of the third quarter when Barnes threw an interception to Nikko Reed that almost was returned for a touchdown. Reed went 56 yards before running back Jaylon Glover brought him down just outside the goal line.

Buffaloes running back Alex Fontenot found pay dirt two plays later on a 1-yard rushing touchdown to give the 33,474 fans at Folsom Field something to cheer about in the blowout loss. Freshman quarterback Maddox Kopp threw for 123 yards and a touchdown for Colorado (1-11).

Tavion Thomas was not available for the Utes on Saturday after he declared early for the NFL draft on Friday. Thomas said in a tweet that he injured his toe during the game against Oregon and was "spending my time rehabbing and training for this next step in my football journey."

Cornerback Clark Phillips III went through warmups with the team before the game but did not suit up for the last game of the regular season. Phillips is expected to be a high draft pick in the upcoming NFL draft.

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Josh is the Sports Director for KSL.com and beat writer of University of Utah athletics โ€” primarily football, menโ€™s basketball and gymnastics. He is also an Associated Press Top 25 voter for college football.

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