The Rose Bowl is less than two weeks away and attention turns to the Utes of Utah (10-3, 8-1), Ohio State’s bowl opponent.

Pac-12 games are on late at night (in the Eastern Time Zone) on channels that people either don’t have or are unaware that they do have.

We often hear the term “East Coast Bias” used when it comes to college football, but it rather should be “Does anyone watch the Pac-12?”.

The Pac-12 champion Utes got off to a 1-2 start to the season, made a key personnel change but even with that stumbled midway through the season once again against Oregon State.

Over the next week-plus, we will get you up to speed on what makes the Utes tick, who to watch out for and a whole lot more. Today we start by looking at some season-defining moments for the Utes as we really start to dial in on the Buckeyes bowl opponent.

1) Loss to BYU in ‘The Holy War’

It is as nasty of a rivalry in college football, two teams inside the borders of the state of Utah with no love between the two programs. Utah owns a 59-32-4 series edge and going into the 2021 game had won the previous nine games.

The Utes were never in this game, spotting the Cougars a 10-0 lead and despite cutting that margin to three points after a Brant Kuithe 20-yard touchdown reception from Charlie Brewer, BYU controlled much of this game.

Utah would close the margin to a score after a Micah Bernard 22-yard touchdown run midway through the fourth quarter, to trim the margin to 23-17, but BYU would put it out of reach in the final four minutes with a late field goal to win it 26-17.

Utah was 2-9 on third down, 0-2 on 4th down and possessed the ball for fewer than 25 minutes as BYU was able to control the clock with 219 rushing yards on 46 carries.

Brewer was not sharp in throwing for only 147 yards with one touchdown against one pick and this game would start to spell the end of the Baylor transfer’s run as the team’s starting quarterback in favor of a familiar name.

2) A change is made against San Diego State

Okay, the Utes would lose this game in triple overtime, 33-31 to the Aztecs of San Diego State but an important move was made in the game. A move that would lead to future success.

San Diego State would get up by a 24-10 margin in the 3rd quarter and this game appeared to be getting out of control for Utah as Brewer was inefficient once again, just 14-26 for 104 yards with an interception.

Enter Cameron Rising, a team captain despite not being the starter at his own position. Much has been made on telecasts how he could have handled the situation in a much worse way, but he was a consummate pro and when his number was called, he was ready.

ALSO: How have the Buckeyes fared against the Pac-12 in the bowls?

Rising would throw a pair of 4th quarter touchdowns including a four-yarder to Theo Howard with 16 seconds left in the game to force the game into overtime.

Utah would see Rising throw another touchdown in the first overtime to keep the game going but there was no magic left after that as Utah would give up a two-point try in the third overtime and could not match in-kind.

Rising would finish the day 19-32 for 153 yards and three scores in relief and Utah’s fortunes would change, even if things appeared to be bleak sitting at 1-2 on the season at the time.

3) A first start, a second comeback

Washington State would be the first start of the season for Cameron Rising at quarterback but even with the change at the position, Utah would find itself down in the 4th quarter before finding a way to pull this game out. And strangely enough, Rising was not the lynchpin in this one.

Washington State would hold a six-point lead in the third quarter and a three-point lead in the fourth after a 28-yard field goal by Utah would cut the lead to 13-10.

Rising was not having the same type of success this week as he did in the previous game, held to just 13-23 passing for 137 yards with no touchdowns or interceptions in the game.

Utah would find success elsewhere as TJ Pledger would give the home Utes the lead with less than five minutes left in the game on a 20-yard touchdown run.

The Utes would get on the board two minutes later with Clark Phillips (yes, that Clark Phillips that was committed to Ohio State up until moments before National Signing Day) taking a 54-yard interception back on the house call to give the Utes the 24-13 win.

Rising would get credit for his first win of the season at starting quarterback, the first of many, even if he did not have his best game.

4) Another comeback

Yes, Utah found itself down again, this time to Arizona State. The Sun Devils took a 21-7 lead to the halftime locker room as Jayden Daniels was getting the better of Cameron Rising, at least at the time.

Utah would come out and shut-out the Sun Devils in the second half while scoring 28 points of their own with two Rising touchdown passes and a pair of rushing scores.

The Utes would rush for 208 yards on the day with three rushing scores along with Rising ending the game 21-33 for 247 yards with two touchdowns via the pass (along with two interceptions).

Utah All-American linebacker Devin Lloyd made his presence known in this game with a pair of sacks and four tackles for loss along with a PBU.

This game would give the Utes separation from ASU in the Pac-12 South standings as it was looking more and more like Utah might be the team to emerge from that division to play for it all, despite starting 1-2 in non-conference play.

5) Here we are

The final game that we will focus on likely is the game that most Ohio State fans saw as they were rooting against Oregon for College Football Playoff rankings clarity as the Ducks traveled to Salt Lake City to take on the Utes.

Utah held the Ducks to just 294 yards of total offense and made the team that beat Ohio State in week two look really bad. The Ducks ran for just 63 yards against Utah in the game and quarterback Anthony Brown had a pedestrian 17-35 passing day for 231 yards and one score.

The Utes would somehow score 14 points in the final 27 seconds of the first half after a Tavion Thomas four-yard score, a subsequent three-and-out by the Ducks with strategic timeout usage would lead to a 78-yard punt return score by Britain Covey.

Utah would go to the locker room up 28-0 and would end up winning the game 38-7, a game that did not even feel that close.

The two teams would rematch two weeks later in the Pac-12 championship game, much to a similar result.

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