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3 takeaways from Utah’s 42-26 win over USC

There were multiple standout performances by the resilient Utes in their historic win in the Coliseum.

Utah quarterback Cameron Rising jumps up to celebrates his rushing touchdown with teammates.
Utah quarterback Cameron Rising, center, celebrates his rushing touchdown with teammates during the second half of an NCAA college football game against Southern California on Saturday, Oct. 9, 2021, in Los Angeles.
Marcio Jose Sanchez, Associated Press

Utah beat USC 46-26, winning in the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum for the first time ever.

Here are three takeaways from the Utes’ win:

Cam Rising turns in a great quarterback performance

Cam Rising turned in the best quarterback performance by a Utah quarterback since 2019, when the Utes were led by Tyler Huntley.

Rising was 22-for-28 for 306 yards, three passing touchdowns and a 205.7 passer rating. He also rushed for 27 yards and a touchdown. He looked in control of the offense throughout the entire game, looking confident and calm in the huddle, and was on target for nearly all of the game. Rising didn’t throw an interception, and didn’t really ever even get close to throwing an interception.

Give credit too to Utah’s offensive line, who did a good job, both in pass protection and run blocking.

Another encouraging sign for Utah’s offense: Both the creativity in the offensive play-calling and the ability to take deep shots throughout the game.

Tavion Thomas gets his shot and cashes in

Utah’s running back room is deep. The three main running backs — Micah Bernard, TJ Pledger and Tavion Thomas — have all had games where they have been the lead back. Bernard was the leading rusher against BYU and San Diego State, and Thomas had the most rushing yards against Weber State and USC.

Thomas had been buried on the depth chart after fumbling twice in Utah’s first two games. He only got two combined handoffs against both San Diego State and Washington State. Utah’s coaches trusted in Thomas against the Trojans, and he rewarded that trust.

Thomas had 16 carries for 113 yards and scored a touchdown on a 43-yard run. Utah has three legitimate options at running back, and that’s a great strength.

Utah shows its resiliency

The Utes have been through a lot this past year, losing Ty Jordan in December 2020 and just two weeks ago losing Aaron Lowe, who was murdered at a house party. Losing two teammates, friends and brothers in less than a year is unimaginable.

To turn in this performance after what the team has gone through during the past two weeks was an incredible showing.

The Utes played together, played connected, played hard and played for each other and for their fallen brothers on Saturday. This win will surely rank as one of the most meaningful wins of Kyle Whittingham’s career.