Utah scored 28 unanswered points in the second half to beat No. 18 Arizona State on Saturday and take control of the Pac-12 South.
Here are three takeaways from the Utes’ win:
A perfect second half
Utah’s second half against Arizona State was perfect.
Up 21-7 heading into the locker room, ASU had all the momentum after intercepting Utah quarterback Cam Rising in field goal range at the end of the second quarter.
But Utah got the ball first in the second half and played a perfect two quarters.
All four of the Utes’ drives in the second half went for touchdowns. Additionally, Utah’s defense held ASU scoreless in the second half and sacked quarterback Jayden Daniels four times.
Rising himself was nearly perfect in the second half, going 13-for-15 with two touchdowns after going 8-for-18 with two interceptions in the first half.
There were no fumbles and no turnovers. Aside from two penalties — one on Britain Covey for flexing over an ASU player — Utah played perfect football.
Utah converts on third downs (and fourth down)
Utah was 7-for-11 (64%) on third down conversions, 4-for-5 (80%) in the second half.
On Utah’s second touchdown drive of the third quarter, which tied the game, Rising found Covey for a 6-yard completion on third and 4. The next play was a touchdown,
On Utah’s first touchdown drive of the fourth quarter, which made it 28-21, Rising’s pass on third and 2 from the ASU 37 was incomplete, but Kyle Whittingham made the decision to go for it on fourth and 2, and it paid off.
Rising hit Theo Howard for a 14-yard pass to convert, and three plays later, Utah had the lead. That fourth-down conversion was crucial and helped the Utes keep momentum.
Finally, on Utah’s last scoring drive, which sealed the game and ate up nearly seven minutes of time, leaving ASU with just 2:39, the Utes converted two third downs.
On the first, from Utah’s 20-yard line, Rising passed to Brant Kuithe for the first on third and 8. On the second, from the ASU 36-yard line, Rising kept the drive alive with a 6-yard pass to Cole Fotheringham on third and 4.
Two plays later, Utah scored to go up 35-21 and put the game away.
Is ‘Sack Lake City’ back?
Through three nonconference games, Utah’s defensive front, normally a strength for a Whittingham-led team, wasn’t much of a factor. But the defensive front has shown up in a huge way during Utah’s three Pac-12 wins.
Against Washington State, Utah registered eight sacks, with Van Fillinger leading the way with three. On the road at USC, Mika Tafua recorded two and the Utes’ run defense held the Trojans to just 92 yards rushing.
In the win over Arizona State, the Utes sacked Daniels four times, with Devin Lloyd registering two and Hauati Pututau and Junior Tafuna each getting one. Daniels was a lot more uncomfortable in the backfield in the second half than the first.
After allowing 288 yards in the first half, Utah clamped down and only allowed 97 in the second, including just 17 rushing yards. After finding success in the first half, in the second half, the Sun Devils were trying to get the run game going again, but it was stuffed.
Utah ended the game with seven tackles for loss and a forced fumble.