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QB Cam Rising makes start, but Jake Bentley replaces him in 2nd quarter against No. 20 USC

SHARE QB Cam Rising makes start, but Jake Bentley replaces him in 2nd quarter against No. 20 USC
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Utah Utes quarterback Cameron Rising (7) passes under pressure from USC Trojans linebacker Drake Jackson (99) at Rice-Eccles Stadium in Salt Lake City on Saturday, Nov. 21, 2020.

Spenser Heaps, Deseret News

SALT LAKE CITY — One of the most intriguing questions surrounding Utah’s long, long, long offseason — who will be the Utes’ starting quarterback? — was officially answered not long before kickoff Saturday night against No. 20 USC. 

Cam Rising received the starting nod over South Carolina grad transfer Jake Bentley and senior Drew Lisk. 

Rising, a 6-foot-2, 220-pound sophomore from Ventura, California, was not only making his Utah debut but also his collegiate debut. 

And it showed. 

Rising’s first outing was short-lived as he had back-to-back turnovers on successive offensive plays and was replaced by Bentley after Rising suffered an injury.

The first turnover was the result of an interception by USC’s Drake Jackson on a screen pass on the Utes’ third offensive series. 

On the first play of Utah’s next possession, Rising was sacked and he fumbled. It appeared that he suffered the injury on that play. The Trojans’ Connor Murphy fell on the loose ball at the Ute 4-yard line and USC cashed in to take a 10-3 advantage early in the second quarter.  

When Utah’s offense returned to the field moments later, Bentley replaced Rising at quarterback. Rising completed 3 of 6 passes for 45 yards and a pick. 

In his Ute debut, Bentley didn’t acquit himself much better early on, throwing incompletions on his first four passing attempts. His first three series featured a pair of three-and-outs and a turnover on a Ty Jordan fumble. 

But Bentley settled down, leading a nine-play, 75-yard drive highlighted by a 33-yard run on third-and-13 and capped by a 7-yard touchdown pass to Samson Nacua with 49 seconds remaining in the first half. 

That cut the Utes’ deficit to 24-17 at halftime. 

While Rising entered the night with zero collegiate experience, Bentley had 33 starts under his belt after starting and playing in every game he appeared in at South Carolina. 

Bentley currently ranks seventh among active FBS quarterbacks in career starts and ninth in career wins (19), leading the Pac-12 in both categories. He ranks in the top-five all-time at South Carolina in career completion percentage (.625), passing completions (626), passing touchdowns (55), passing yards (7,527) and total offense (7,670).

In the first half, Bentley completed 4 of 8 passes for 41 yards and a TD. 

EXTRA POINTS: The home team has won the last seven games in the series between Utah and USC … The 8:30 p.m. kickoff Saturday night at Rice-Eccles was USC’s latest start since 1955, when it hosted Wisconsin for an 8:30 kickoff at the LA Coliseum … Saturday’s game against USC was Utah’s latest season opener for Utah since 1895 when Utah played against the YMCA team on Nov. 28  … Going into the game, Utah had won 12 consecutive season openers, dating back to 2008.