SALT LAKE CITY — Jordan Wynn understood why he was being sent to the bench, and it was just the jolt the Utes' quarterback needed.
After struggling in the first half of Utah's dramatic 17-16 win over BYU on Saturday afternoon, Wynn had to sit and watch the Utes' first two series of the second half. Terrance Cain replaced him for those two possessions and threw two interceptions, one of which was nearly returned for a touchdown by Cougar linebacker Shane Hunter.
From there, the Utes gave the ball back to Wynn and he responded. He drove Utah to a field goal to make it 13-3, and after the Utes recovered a fumble he tossed a 37-yard touchdown pass to DeVonte Christopher to close it to 13-10. He set up Utah's final score of the game — a 3-yard touchdown run by Matt Asiata — with a 29-yard pass to Dallin Rogers.
"I just wasn't playing well," Wynn said of his first-half performance in which he completed 8 of 18 passes for 113 yards. "That's just how it is. In a close game like that you got to play well and I wasn't. It definitely kind of motivated me, gave me a little extra push. I felt I came back and played pretty well and that's all that counts."
Wynn's numbers weren't all that different in the second half compared to the first, as he finished 13-for-30 passing for 199 yards. The big difference, however, was on the scoreboard, as he led the Utes to 17 fourth quarter points compared to none in the first half.
"Jordan Wynn, I thought responded very well when he was called upon the second time," said Utes coach Kyle Whittingham. "The first half was over with, we hadn't scored a point, done very little on offense. (We were) looking for a spark. Terrance Cain is a good player, had some success early in the season when he played. It didn't work out with Terrance this afternoon."
It did, however, eventually work out well for Wynn, and the way he handled adversity against BYU earned the sophomore quarterback some more respect among his teammates.
"It really talks about his will to never give up — his fight," said Utah tight end Kendrick Moeai. "He's always ready. He'll never quit and that's what we love about Jordan Wynn. He's a great player."
LOOKING AHEAD: Whittingham had refused to talk about the Pac-12 throughout the season, but with the regular season out of the way he finally broke his silence about the impending move to the bigger and better conference following Utah's victory.
Not surprisingly, he knows what type of challenges await the Utes in all phases of their program.
"The bar has been raised, no doubt about it," he said. "Our challenges are going to be much more intense. Everything is raised. Facilities are an arms race. Everyone is trying to build bigger and better buildings and that gets intensified. Recruiting gets intensified, the competition on the field gets intensified. Everything is just a bigger challenge for us. We'll see how we make that transition. We have a really solid football team. There are some darn good football teams in the Pac-12."
BIG HIT: Utes defensive back Brian Blechen was flagged for a 15-yard penalty for a brutal hit he put on BYU tight end Devin Mahina in the second quarter. The penalty, according to officials, was for "contact above the shoulders."
Whittingham didn't seem pleased with the call, although he didn't say that directly. He planned to review the film, and joked about what he could say about the penalty.
"I'm not sure what's legal and what's not anymore," Whittingham said. "Wait, the Mountain West can't reprimand me anymore can they? I can say what I want … but I won't."
SENIOR SEND-OFF: Eighteen Ute seniors were honored for their contributions to the program prior to kickoff, and then sent off in style with a victory over their rivals. The seniors who played their last game at Rice-Eccles Stadium were: Neli A'asa, Asiata, Jereme Brooks, Daniel Bukarau, Cain, Lamar Chapman, Brad Clifford, Christian Cox, Chad Manis, Joe Phillips, Caleb Schlauderaff, Shaky Smithson, Justin Taplin-Ross, Zane Taylor, Junior Tui'one, Walter Watts, Eddie Wide and Kamaron Yancy.12 comments on this story
"I couldn't be more happy for the seniors on our team going out with a win this way," Whittingham said. "This is a great group of seniors, the winningest group of seniors in Utah football history. Their hard work, dedication, blood, sweat, commitment has just been phenomenal. Only fitting that they should go out this way."
ATTENDANCE: A total of 45,272 fans attended Saturday's game. Interestingly, that number is down from the 45,522 fans that attended Utah's 47-7 loss to TCU three weeks ago. Utah's season home attendance this season averaged 45,459 fans, which ranks as the second-highest in school history behind 2008 (45,585).