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Takeaways: Utah vs. ASU

It was an epic comeback and a tale of two halves on Saturday at Rice-Eccles Stadium. The University of Utah struggled in the first half, before eventually defeating the Arizona State Sun Devils in convincing fashion, 35-21.

Here are the takeaways from the win:

A thoroughly dominating second half

After a lackluster first half that included two interceptions by the offense, and the defense allowing Arizona State to control the line of scrimmage, Utah came out on a mission in the second half. A dominating opening nine play, 75 yard drive that included a healthy dose of Tavion Thomas set the tone for the rest of the game. The defense followed suit by pitching a three-and-out, and then the offense marched down field again to tie the game halfway through the third quarter.

Cam Rising bounced back from his first half mistakes with 140 yards and two touchdowns on 13-15 attempts in the second half. They scored touchdowns on all four second half possessions. The defense pitched a shutout as well, allowing only 17 yards rushing and 80 passing yards for 97 total second half yards, after allowing 288 in the first half. As if to put an exclamation point on the game, the defense finished with three sacks in a row on Jayden Daniels, including two by Devin Lloyd.

The Utes have a Rising star

After two interceptions—one not his fault—and 8-18 passing in the first half, the Utes stormed back in the second half behind the arms and legs of Cam Rising.

The Pac-12 Network’s Yogi Roth would later go on and compare Utah’s situation to when USC made the switch to Sam Darnold. Back in 2016, the Trojans ran off nine straight wins with Darnold after two early season losses. USC would go on to the Rose Bowl where they defeated Penn State.

Additionally, our friends over at the Arizona State Rivals site have boldly told us that Rising is the best quarterback at Utah since they joined the Pac-12, calling him “the total package.”

There are a lot of games left to be played in 2021, but it’s very apparent that Utah has corrected their early season mistake. The offense has opened up completely under Rising and he has them firing on all cylinders.

Daniels’ nightmares of Utah continue

Jayden Daniels didn’t play a bad game against the team he was once thought to be heading to out of high school. He just didn’t make the plays when the Sun Devils needed them most, going 3-12 on third down conversions. Of course it wasn’t all him, as receivers dropped passes or the running backs couldn’t get much going on the second half. Utah sacked him four times, but that was deceiving due to the last drive.

After saying at Pac-12 media day that he doesn’t like playing Utah’s defense, it’s safe to say that this game did little to change his mind as he walked into the postgame beat up with two plugs in his nose, and an 0-2 record against the Utes.

The offensive line deserves some credit

After early season struggles, the Utah offensive line had their best game against the Sun Devils—or at least their best half of play. The comeback wasn’t possible without the holes that they opened in the run game and the protection they provided Rising.

This group has received a lot of fair criticism in 2021, but they deserve props for the last two weeks. They especially deserve to be acknowledged after going up against a stout defense for Arizona State.

Up next

The Utes travel to Corvallis to face Oregon State in a battle of Pac-12 division leaders. Utah goes into the game with sole possession of first in the South, while the Beavers are tied in the North with the Oregon Ducks. Kickoff is at 5:30 MST on the Pac-12 Network.