The loss for Utah put its postseason aspirations permanently out of reach.
Check out how Utah graded out in each aspect of the game.
Despite throwing for more than 300 yards and recording three scoring strikes, Adam Schulz's back-to-back interceptions returned for touchdowns made just too much of a hole to climb out of for the Utes Saturday afternoon. The second pick-six put the Utes down 21-0 and despite being able to climb back to within six late in the game, the slow start is tough to ask of any quarterback — let alone a sophomore backup.
Schulz settled in and made a valiant effort to get within striking distance, and Kelvin York picked up 94 yards to go with his two touchdowns while averaging nearly four yards per carry. It's hard to downgrade an offensive unit that scored 37 points on 481 yards, but the two costly turnovers dropped an otherwise impressive performance to not quite enough.
The typically stout Ute defense took a shot to its reputation Saturday, giving up 578 total yards and 35 points. Connor Halliday looked like a Heisman candidate, carving up the Utah secondary for four touchdowns on 488 passing yards.
Utah did pick up two fumble recoveries on the day and held the Washington State offense in check long enough after falling behind by three touchdowns early to get within six points with 12 minutes to play in the fourth. Just when it looked like the Utes might hold the Cougars and have a shot to take the lead, Halliday connected with Dom Williams on a 71-yard bomb to extend the lead to 49-37.
Kyle Whittingham has had some heat from the fans recently, but not many teams can withstand losing their starting quarterback for the year and not miss a beat. The game plan and play-calling were sound offensively, and if it wasn't for a couple of bad decisions by the backup quarterback, there may have been a completely different outcome.
Defensively, it's difficult to know whether it's poor coaching or just terrible execution, but either way, Washington State is known as a passing school under Mike Leach, and it seemed as if the Ute coaching staff had forgotten that fact. As John F. Kennedy said, "Success has a thousand fathers, but failure is an orphan." Whether it's the president or the head coach, the buck stops with the man at the top.
A blocked extra point highlighted an otherwise average performance. The high number of return yards is offset by the number of attempts. Giving up 49 points is one way to have a stacked stat sheet.
The porous secondary made for an exciting back-and-forth contest, and add that to the mistakes on offense and the negatives start to stack up a lot faster than the positives. On the one hand, Schulz looks like he should be fine to finish out the year. The bad news is because of the loss, that will only be for one more game.