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3 takeaways from Utah’s epic win over USC

The no. 20 Utes beat no. 7 USC 43-42.

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Utah Utes quarterback Cam Rising (7) warms up as Utah and USC prepare to play in Salt Lake City on Saturday, Oct. 15, 2022.

Utah Utes quarterback Cam Rising (7) warms up as Utah and USC prepare to play at Rice Eccles Stadium in Salt Lake City on Saturday, Oct. 15, 2022.

Scott G Winterton, Deseret News

Utah secured its biggest win of the season on Saturday and remained in the hunt for the Pac-12 title. The No. 20 Utes beat No. 7 USC 43-42 at Rice Eccles Stadium in Salt Lake City.

Here are three takeaways from the game:

Caleb Williams is spectacular. So is Cam Rising

Caleb Williams turned in an incredible performance for the Trojans and, for much of the first half, it seemed as if he would literally run away with the game.

But Cam Rising played his heart out to get the Utes back in it and, eventually, to enable them to take the lead.

The Utah quarterback used his arms and legs on the path to victory, running in three touchdowns and the game-winning two-point conversion.

Overall, Rising completed 30 of 44 passes for 415 yards, two touchdowns and no interceptions. He was the Utes’ leading rusher and, as noted above, had three rushing touchdowns.

Williams also had an impressive stat line. He was 25 of 42 for 381 yards, five touchdowns and no interceptions. He also accounted for 57 rushing yards.

The Utah defense struggled, but USC’s defense made costlier mistakes

If the Utes had lost, this section would have been about how the Utah defense struggled to respond to Williams’ star power. But since they won, it will only partly be about that.

Utah gave up tons of big plays — and SIX touchdowns — but the defense stayed strong in key moments, such as when the Trojans recovered a fumble in the third quarter and had the chance to go up by two scores.

The Utes forced USC to punt on that drive, paving the way for Rising and the offense to tie it up.

But clearly, the Utes can’t make a habit of giving up 42 points in a game. (They did last week, as well, against UCLA.)

Although USC’s defense started strong and prevented the Utes from scoring until the end of the first quarter, players got sloppy in the second half and racked up costly penalties.

For example, the Utes’ second-to-last scoring drive was aided by a roughing the passer and two defensive pass interference calls.

Altogether, the Trojans had 12 penalties for 93 yards, while Utah had just five for 42.

Some things are bigger than football

Yes, Utah’s win was important, and so was the effort to honor former Utes Ty Jordan and Aaron Lowe, who both died of gunshot wounds while on the team.

Jordan died in December 2020 after an accidental shooting. His childhood friend, Lowe, died just nine months later after being shot when a fight broke out at a house party.

The case against Lowe’s alleged killer is ongoing, as KSL reported last month.

On Saturday, the Utes wore hand-painted helmets featuring the two players’ faces and also took part in their now traditional “moment of loudness” along with the crowd.

Fox announcer Jason Benetti and analyst Brock Huard spoke about the beauty of the moment during the broadcast, noting that it should give you faith in humanity, no matter what you believe.