LAS VEGAS — Allegiant Stadium, home of the NFL’s Raiders, became Rice-Eccles Stadium South Friday night during the Pac-12 Championship game between No. 17 Utah and No. 10 Oregon.
Waves of fans clad in red washed into the 61,000-seat venue early — and stayed late — to cheer loud for their Utes, who battered the Ducks 38-10.
“I was expecting it. I knew that the Utes were going to travel and they were going to do a great job of getting down here and making sure that they were there at the start,” said quarterback Cam Rising.
“We were out there about two hours before and we’re already seeing a bunch of red out there in the crowd and little speckles of red. We definitely had a sea of red out there.”
Added Devin Lloyd: “We have the best fans in the nation. I just love the way they travel and everything they do. Even at home, they’ve been showing up all year … It was no surprise to me that they all showed up, and they were loud the whole game.”
Coach Kyle Whittingham also appreciated the home-away-from-home atmosphere the fans helped create.
“During warmups, it was incredible. It was 5-1 (Ute fans to Duck fans ratio) is what it looked like. When the game actually started, it was close to that, or 4-1 or 3-1,” he said. “It was definitely a crowd in our favor.
“I appreciate our crowd. They’ve been awesome all year long. The crowd at Rice-Eccles for that Oregon game 13 days ago was the best environment I’ve ever been in. This was just a great show of support from our fans. I promise you one thing — they’re going to travel to the Rose Bowl. I guarantee you that.”
EXTRA POINTS: Aaron Lowe’s mother, Donna Lowe-Sterns, was Utah’s honorary captain Friday night. Oregon’s honorary captain was Heisman Trophy winner and current Las Vegas Raiders quarterback Marcus Mariota … Utah wide receiver and return specialist Britain Covey has been named the Pac-12 Football Scholar-Athlete of the Year, the conference announced on Friday. Covey is the first Ute to win the honor in football since Utah joined the Pac-12 in 2011 … Running back Tavion Thomas eclipsed the 1,000-yard plateau for the season in the first half.