The Utes' trip to the Pacific Northwest and its raucous CenturyLink Field only made things dicier for their season.
After a 34-15 loss against Washington, the Utes (4-6, 2-5 Pac-12) have no choice but to beat Arizona and Colorado in their final two contests if they want bowl eligibility. Utah left much to be desired as the program's streak of winning regular seasons ended at nine. The Utes also remain winless (0-8) against the Huskies.
Offense: Saturday night may have marked the worst evening for Travis Wilson (8 of 23, 55 yards, zero touchdowns, one INT). He didn't face a ridiculously formidable foe, either, as the Huskies are 58th in the nation in scoring defense. (He put up better numbers against UCLA and Oregon State, whose scoring defenses rank higher, and California, which is just behind at 64th.) The offense went just 1-of-13 on third downs and only managed 188 total yards, 136 below an average that already ranked among the worst few dozen in the nation.
This side of the ball would have completely embarrassed itself were it not for John White IV (22 carries, 142 yards, two touchdowns). One wonders if he should have been given the ball even more, though it's unfortunate Kelvin York (20 carries for 103 yards the past two weeks) was out with an injury. Still, Brian Johnson proved once again that, as the nation's youngest offensive coordinator, he's fresh. Because the effectiveness of the passing and rushing games were so polar, perhaps two grades should be assigned. Alas. GRADE: D+
Defense: As has been the case often this season, the Utah defense wasn't the main culprit in the loss. due to two turnovers from the offense that kept its defensive teammates on the field, the evening presented a challenge. The Huskies' 34 points and 437 total yards were 13.3 and 105 above their averages, respectively, so it wasn't Utah's best defensive outing of the fall by any stretch. GRADE: C
Special teams: There's been a lot well-deserved talk about kick returner Reggie Dunn in recent weeks (rightfully deserved, given his record-breaking ways in which he became the first player in NCAA history to return a pair of kickoffs 100 yards for touchdowns in one game). That wasn't much of a storyline Saturday — at least his returns weren't. It's worth noting that Washington made a point of kicking away from Dunn during the game. GRADE: B3 comments on this story
Overall: The easiest explanation for this defeat is that the Utes once again met a superior team. Utah's losses to the likes of Washington, Arizona State and UCLA simply show that they are not nearly as good as some thought they would be (second in the Pac-12 South preseason media poll), no matter who is at quarterback. Wilson remains winless on the road — and worse, he's not even been the same type of player on the road as in Salt Lake City. Perhaps fans can hold out hope, though, since next week's contest is at Rice-Eccles Stadium. Spare the Utes a half grade due to the venue. GRADE: C-
Rhett Wilkinson studies interesting stuff at Utah State University and is the co-founder of Aggie BluePrint, USU's first student magazine. Previously a Deseret News intern, he can be reached at email@example.com or on Twitter: @wilklogan