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Brad Rock: Whittingham's m.o. is to be looking good and not talking about it

Few things are less interesting than coaches who drive the speed limit in the interview room. They deliver virtually nothing colorful and offer little actual insight.

But right now, Kyle Whittingham is looking downright riotous. He doesn’t need to say a word.

His scores are doing the talking.

Friday at the Rose Bowl — but not in the Rose Bowl — the Utes officially launched their conference championship campaign by chasing the Bruins into the sea, 41-10. A month after being placed on life support, they’re atop the Pac-12 South and bowl-eligible for the fifth consecutive season.

For now, they own a large piece of Los Angeles. They preceded their win over the Bruins with a victory over USC last week in Salt Lake City. They are now 4-2 in league play, while USC is 3-2.

Score one for Whittingham’s no-nonsense approach, Britain Covey’s absurd versatility and Zack Moss’s ridiculously physical rushing game. The coach’s signature assessment is always the same at this time of year: There’s a lot of football remaining.

"Staying on an even keel, trying to avoid being too high or too low. We just want to be consistent in our approach,” Whittingham said this week.

As far as he’s is concerned, pay no attention to the current peak, which includes a sure jump in the polls. He called the previous three-game win streak “a mini-roll.”

But having topped 40 points in its last four games, the mini-roll is now looking like a landslide.

So, after a September of uncertainty by the Utes, they have spent a month going bananas. No one can stop them. Bruins coach Chip Kelly, who looked so peerless when he was at Oregon, now looks out of style. Who knew that a few years later he would get schooled by smash-mouth Utah?

The Bruins had early chances to keep it competitive. In the second quarter, they had a clear lane to the end zone but dropped the pass. They missed a field goal as the first half expired. Early in the second half, Utah’s Tyler Huntley lateraled to Covey, who looked to pass, then ran for 19 yards. Moss, who rushed for over 200 yards on the night, took care of the rest, putting Utah up 24-7.

The Bruins were in ruins.

By the time Friday’s game rolled around, the pessimism that had hounded Utah early in the season was waning. Two quick losses to start conference play were a gut punch that might have sent lesser coaches to the cry room. Whiittingham is nothing if not stubborn.

Pac-12 big-shots: “Are you still here?”

Utes: “Scoreboard!”

To make their point, the Utes claimed all three of this week’s Pac-12 Player of the Week awards. Huntley was offensive star, Chase Hansen defensive and Matt Gay special teams. Whittingham won Actor of the Week, turning in an Oscar-worthy performance by playing it straight-faced afterward.

He should have started a conga line.

Despite making the rankings for the fifth consecutive season, Whittingham isn’t about to relax.

“You can't look past anyone in this conference,” Whittingham said. “Our guys do a great job of not looking past any team. So, I couldn't even tell you who we play next week.”

Don’t believe him.

He has the schedule memorized like his Social Security number.

How visible Utah becomes in the bowl picture will soon be decided. Remaining games are against Arizona State, Oregon, Colorado and BYU. All are winnable, none guaranteed.

This naturally leads to memories of previous times Utah had a division title within reach, but lost crucial games in the last month. Just don’t ask Whittingham to forecast the future. A few weeks ago, a two-loss Utah team seemed dead in the water. Now a two-loss conference record would wrap up a division title.

In 2012, UCLA won the South with a 6-3 record and in 2015 USC won with three losses. But the freakiest race ever was the Utes’ first year in the Pac-12, when 5-4 UCLA won the South, thanks to NCAA sanctions that grounded USC.

This year, the Utes have the tiebreaker over USC, UCLA and Arizona, and haven’t played Colorado or Arizona State.

Don’t expect Whittingham to say much.

But maybe he’ll crack a smile.