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Why Utah’s experience against Pac-12 QBs this season will help in the Rose Bowl

The Utes defeated Caleb Williams and the Trojans twice, including in the Pac-12 championship game earlier this month

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USC quarterback Caleb Williams is sacked by Utah defensive end Gabe Reid at Saturday, Oct. 15, 2022, at Rice-Eccles Stadium.

USC quarterback Caleb Williams is sacked by Utah defensive end Gabe Reid at Rice Eccles Stadium in Salt Lake City on Saturday, Oct. 15, 2022. Utah faced a number of quality QBs in Pac-12 play, and will see another one in Penn State’s Sean Clifford in the Rose Bowl.

Scott G Winterton, Deseret News

LOS ANGELES — Throughout the season, as part of the Pac-12 Conference, Utah has faced some top-flight quarterbacks.

Headlining the list is USC’s Heisman Trophy winner Caleb Williams. Of course, the Utes defeated Williams and the Trojans twice, including in the Pac-12 championship game earlier this month.

But Utah also went up against UCLA’s Dorian Thompson-Robinson, Oregon’s Bo Nix and Washington State’s Cam Ward, among others. 

Those tests should help the Utes as they line up against Penn State quarterback Sean Clifford Monday in the Rose Bowl. 

“Penn State has a mobile quarterback. But we’re used to that because we play mobile quarterbacks every week, the best of the best mobile quarterbacks,” said Utah defensive lineman Gabe Reid. “So we’re excited for the opportunity to be able to play Penn State.”

Utes defensive coordinator Morgan Scalley agreed. 

“Yeah, the other thing, too, is just the different types of offenses that you see in the Pac-12,” he said. “We’ve had our running quarterbacks, and then you’ve had the teams a lot like us that pride themselves in running the ball. They’re a play-action team, will hit you deep. So they’re a lot more like Oregon State than maybe like a USC. But if a team can play smashmouth football and beat you up around the ball, it’s a long day. It’s no fun.”

Of the teams Utah has played this season, Oregon State resembles the Nittany Lions the most

“Oregon State is a good comparison, apart from our own program,” Reid said. “Their offense is similar to Oregon State, pretty run-heavy and play-action.”

“Oregon State is very similar to what we do,” Scalley said. “They’re a physical team, a lot of shifts and motions, eye tricks and stuff like that and pride themselves on running the ball, so we’ve faced teams like that. (Penn State) is a high-caliber team. They’ve won 10 games for a reason, and we’re excited for the opportunity.”


Rose Bowl on the air

No. 8 Utah (10-3)
vs. No. 11 Penn State (10-2)
Jan. 2, 3 p.m. MST
Rose Bowl
Pasadena, California
TV: ESPN
Radio: ESPN 700