2014 Las Vegas Bowl final score: 3 things we learned from Utah’s 45-10 win
Utah’s defense did its usual thing, while its offense might’ve had its best game in years.
The Utah Utes are 9-4, their best record since 2010, after blowing out a Colorado State team that was considered the country’s toughest non-power-conference team for at least a portion of the season. Utah’s esteemed front seven added three sacks of CSU quarterback Garrett Grayson to its list, forcing a pair of turnovers and limiting the dangerous Rams to just 266 yards.
Utah gained 359 yards rushing, led by Devontae Booker’s 162. Colorado State gained 12, counting sacks. This game was only competitive for about a quarter.
Three things we learned
1. Utah does have an offense! The defense-minded Utes had 385 or more yards in a game just twice since Week 2 against Fresno State, until Saturday, when they passed that mark with time to spare in the third quarter. They finished with 548, their most against an FBS opponent since 2010.
Their 21-point start set a record for Las Vegas Bowl points in a first quarter. Their five rushing touchdowns matched the most they put up all year, set in Week 1 against Idaho State.
While embattled quarterback Travis Wilson didn’t shatter records through the air — he went 17 of 26 for 158 yards — he also ran for a season high 86. If Wilson can continue to inch forward as a passer while approximating Kendal Thompson’s ground production, then Utah can be a balanced team after all.
2. Colorado State without Jim McElwain is … undetermined. The Rams were without their head coach, who left for Florida, but they still had their Biletnikoff Award finalist wide receiver, Rashard Higgins, and Grayson, who’d ranked No. 2 in the country in passer rating. And so forth. But against the Utes’ defense, none of that mattered much.
With Grayson, Dee Hart, and other contributors leaving, plus a to-be-determined head coach arriving, it’s hard to feel too great about CSU’s chances in the brutal MWC Mountain Division next year, especially after Utah State flattened UTEP earlier Saturday.
3. The Utes can take another step forward. After a mediocre first three years in the Pac-12, Utah broke through this year. They’ll finish with a likely top-20 ranking.
But take a look at their depth chart. You’ll note something like 16 or 17 starters should return for next year. Losing quarterback devourer Nate Orchard and speedy Kaelin Clay, each of whom appeared on All-America teams, will hurt. But the Utes should bring back multiple experienced contributors at every spot, including yet another chance for one of these quarterbacks to emerge as the consistent starter.
The Pac-12 South could be hell next year, and the Utes should be one reason why. They open with a still-rebuilding Michigan at home.