On Tuesday, the Zaxby's Heart of Dallas Bowl matched the Big 12 West Virginia Mountaineers and the Pac-12 Utah Utes. Zach Moss got the scoring started for the Utes in the first quarter when he broke off a 58-yard touchdown run. The U. never relinquished its lead on the way to a fifth straight bowl win on a cold, drizzly day in Texas.
Utah's three stars
3. Julian Blackmon
The Utes intercepted West Virginia quarterback Chris Chugunov two times and Julian Blackmon had both interceptions. The sophomore defensive back took on the challenge and made the Mountaineer offense pay when throwing in his direction. He also had two tackles in the secondary.
2. Tyler Huntley
Huntley continued to show Ute fans that he is a dual threat. He accounted for two rushing scores in the bowl game along with decent passing and rushing numbers. The Utes' quarterback completed 12 passes for 165 yards and ran for 57 yards on 25 carries.
1. Zack Moss
Moss was at his best in this bowl victory. At 7.5 yards per carry, it was difficult for the Mountaineers to contain him on 20 carries for 150 rushing yards. He amassed over 1,000 yards for the first time in a season. Also, Moss caught one pass for nine yards to add to his overall stats without any turnovers in the game.
West Virginia's three stars
3. Billy Kinney
Kinney was busy punting the ball away from the Utes on Tuesday. He punted nine times for 424 yards, which resulted in 47.1 yards per punt. A 51-yarder was his best boot of the game, and he helped the Mountaineers pin the Utes deep in their own territory for much of the game.
2. Gary Jennings
Jennings tied for the team lead with three catches, and caught the most receiving yards for the Mountaineers with 66. Thirty-eight of his 66 yards came on one pass, making it the longest pass play of the day for West Virginia. For the season, Jennings caught 94 passes for 1,030 receiving yards.
1. Kyzir White
Senior safety Kyzir White was all over the field. He had 13 tackles, a sack, and 1.5 tackles for a loss. Over the last three games, White had 10 or more tackles, but the Mountaineers lost each matchup.
Analyzing the stats
Utah dominated the game and most of the statistics. Utah had 19 first downs, while West Virginia only gained six. The Utes more than doubled the Mountaineers' total yardage with a 362-153 advantage. Time of possession was also favorable to the Utes compared to the opposition (38:34-21:26), and they held a takeaway advantage of 4-2.
This was not the first time Utah beat West Virginia handily in a bowl game. In 1964, Utah and West Virginia met up in the Liberty Bowl, where Utah won 32-6. That year, the team's leading game-day rusher, Ron Coleman, ran for 154 yards, very similar to Moss' 2017 bowl performance of 150 yards.
The Utes end the 2017 season and prepare for 2018, where they will take on Weber State University, which just came off its best season ever. The matchup will take place at Rice-Eccles Stadium on Thursday, Aug. 30.
West Virginia will get the University of Tennessee on a neutral field for its first game on Sept. 1, 2018. It will look to stay competitive in the Big 12 Conference.
Shane Reinhard is a graduate of Weber State University and a teacher and coach at St. Joseph Catholic High School in Ogden, Utah. Email: [email protected]. Follow on Twitter @hoopsters12.