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In what’s already been a historic season, Utah has captured its first Pac-12 championship and its first berth in the Rose Bowl.

But the Utes don’t just want to play in the Rose Bowl. They want to win it. Utah is preparing in earnest for the No. 6 Ohio State Buckeyes in a matchup on New Year’s Day.

Coach Kyle Whittingham has coached in big games before, like the 2004 Fiesta Bowl and the 2008 Sugar Bowl. The Utes won both of those games.

“Very similar feel (to the Sugar Bowl),” Whittingham said. “Anytime you’re in a game of the magnitude that we’re in, it’s just a different feel. It’s not a different approach. We have the same format and practice procedure, that type of stuff. But a little more excitement.”

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While Utah is 11-3 under Whittingham in bowl games, the Utes have lost their last two bowl appearances.

Yes, this is a huge game on a huge stage. But Utah will continue to practice and prepare the same way it has for weeks. The Utes have won nine of their last 10 games.

“It comes down to not psyching yourself out. You do what’s been working. It’s nice to play for a coach with such a good bowl record because you trust his process,” said wide receiver Britain Covey, whose final college game will be in the Rose Bowl. “When you’re playing a big team, you don’t change what you’re doing if that’s what got you to that point. That’s what’s working so you keep doing it. It’s a comforting feeling that you don’t have to change up things and do something completely different.”

Numbers game

1,041: Rushing yards by running back Tavion Thomas this season.

1,092: Career punt return yards accumulated by Britain Covey, the school’s all-time leader.

2,279: Passing yards by quarterback Cam Rising this season.

Extra points

  • Utah football gets commitment from Stanford grad transfer Kyle Petrucci (Deseret News)
  • Minus their best player for at least one more game, Runnin’ Utes are getting used to dealing with adversity (Deseret News)
  • 10 quick impressions from the Red Rocks Preview (Deseret News)
  • Utah linebacker Devin Lloyd is a consensus All-American, falls just shy of unanimous selection (Deseret News)
  • Utah linebacker Nephi Sewell declares for the NFL draft (Deseret News)


Comments from Deseret News readers

“Ute fans who watched the Michigan vs. OSU matchup will have seen that Utah matches up well with the Buckeyes. Like Michigan, the Utes run a pro style scheme using multiple tight ends, zone and power with a big RB and play action. OSU is a spread team with run and pass concepts much like Washington State’s. I would compare Stroud’s skill set to de Laura’s. Main difference is better receiver group than Wazzu’s. Defensively mixes covers with four down front. Basically, the Buckeyes look a lot like Utah defensively. OSU couldn’t stop Michigan’s run game and gave up some explosive pass plays deep. So, I expect Utah to have similar success. The real issue for me is whether Utes’ front can get pressures and sacks to disrupt OSU’s high level pass game. If not, secondary could struggle against these receivers.”

— Atkins

“I wouldn’t be surprised if Covey managed to find a spot for himself in the NFL. He’s certainly got the drive and the discipline to overcome the odds.”

View Comments

— Henry Drummond

Up next

Dec. 30 | 7 p.m. | Men’s basketball | vs. Oregon State | @Corvallis, Oregon | Pac-12 Network

Dec. 31 | 7 p.m. | Women’s basketball | vs. Oregon | @Eugene, Oregon | Pac-12 Oregon

Jan. 1 | 3 p.m. | Football | vs. Ohio State | @Pasadena, California | Rose Bowl | ESPN

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