It was like a chess match all night. I would run up and they would kick it deep. There was a ton of crazy stuff going on. —Utah WR Reggie Dunn
BOULDER, Colo. — Reggie Dunn and Utah’s kickoff return unit was just hoping for an opportunity. After Colorado’s Marques Mosley took one back 100 yards to tie the game in the fourth quarter Saturday, the Utes were confident they could do it as well.
“We knew we had to match it,” Dunn said. “We knew we could do it.”
Dunn speaks from his experience. He extended his NCAA record to four 100-yard returns on the season, scoring the game-winning touchdown in Utah’s 42-35 victory at Folsom Field.
Utah coach Kyle Whittingham didn’t think Dunn would get a chance to get past three.
“I didn’t think they would give him a shot,” Whittingham said.
Dunn, though, held out hope.
“It was like a chess match all night. I would run up and they would kick it deep. There was a ton of crazy stuff going on,” Dunn said. “We kept talking about it and we knew if we got another chance, we knew it would work. Whatever we did, it finally worked. I got my hands on it and everyone was ready to go. I’m happy it ended that way.”
BOWL-A-RAMA: Although it’ll take a lot of help, Utah could find itself in the bowl pool in there aren’t enough team that qualify. The slim chance involves the outcome of games involving 13 teams that are one win away from bowl eligibility and then Academic Progress Report scores if there are vacancies.
“We look forward to a possible bowl game. We’ll see what happens if some teams that need to win, lose,” said defensive end Trevor Reilly. “Maybe some cards will fall into place and make a bowl game possible.”
CLOSE BUT NO RIVALRY: Whittingham doesn’t have that rivalry feeling about Colorado just yet. Friday’s game was just the second meeting between the teams since 1962.
“We respect them and it was a close game last year and a close game this year,” Whittingham said. “But it does not feel like it to me. Not yet.”
KRUGER SIDELINED: An ankle injury kept Utah defensive tackle Dave Kruger out of his final regular-season college football game.
The senior captain, who played in 49 games and made 37 starts (the most of any player on the defense), tried to give it a go in pregame warm-ups but wound up missing just the second game of this career. A knee infection kept him out of the 2011 Sun Bowl.
“Personally it’s very disappointing. I went through it last year and it’s hard to sit on the sideline while you watch all your boys go out to battle,” Kruger said. “You want to be out there with them. All year round you’re working out just for these 12-13 weeks and when one of those weeks is taken away it’s like some of that work you did is worthless.”
Kruger finished his final season with 30 tackles and a fumble recovery.
“It’s really hard and disappointing but sometimes you can’t control what happens,” he said before noting that it’s not the way he wanted to end his college career. “But I’m thankful for what I did do for the University of Utah.”
NO STAMPEDE: Colorado concluded its poorest season in school history with a 1-11 record, including not a single victory in Boulder.
Second-year head coach Jon Embree acknowledged that Friday’s loss was especially difficult.
“It’s tough because it’s the seniors last home game,” he said. “It’s tough for a lot of reasons. Losing is not fun.”
EXTRA POINTS: Colorado honored its smallest senior class on record (eight players) in pregame ceremonies. ... Former Ute Sealver Siliga of the Denver Broncos stopped by the team hotel Thursday. ... NFL scouts from the Buffalo Bills, Denver Broncos, Minnesota Vikings, New York Jets and San Francisco 49ers were credentialed for the game. ... The Utes and their traveling party, comprised of approximately 200 people, shared a Thanksgiving meal together at the Omni Interlocken Resort in nearby Broomfield, Colo.