The Utah Utes defeated Indiana 26-24 in the Foster Farms Bowl to cap off another solid season.
That’s not to suggest that the Utes were perfect. They clearly weren’t. Utah was its own worst enemy in this contest, turning the ball over four times, including a fumble on the opening kickoff that allowed Indiana to take a 7-0 lead right out of the gate. In addition, the Utes shot themselves in the foot with penalties, committing nine infractions for 86 yards.
Despite these issues, Utah still managed to get a “W” in this game thanks to a solid effort on both sides of the ball. Running back Joe Williams had another stellar outing, rushing for a bowl-record 222 yards on 26 carries. This opened things up for the Ute passing game, which threw for 214 yards on only 12 completions. With both the running game and passing game working, Utah held the ball for over 35 minutes, keeping Indiana’s explosive offense on the sidelines for most of the evening.
The Utah defense was every bit as good as the offense. The Ute front seven controlled the line of scrimmage all night long, limiting the Hoosier ground game to just 3.2 yards per carry. It also did a great job of getting after the quarterback, recording three sacks and forcing a number of errant throws. As a result of the bombardment of pressure, IU signal callers completed just 15 of 40 pass attempts.
With the victory, Utah finished off yet another strong season. Sure, the Utes came up just short in the Pac-12 South race again this year, but there were still a lot of positives, such as beating archrival BYU, and upsetting No. 9 USC at home. Although Utah will have to replace a number of key players next fall – including Joe Williams, Tim Patrick, and Hunter Dimick – there’s no reason to think that the team won’t be a contender in the Pac-12 in 2017. After all, the Utes have now won at least nine games in each of the last three seasons. There’s no way to do that in a league as deep as the Pac-12 without having loads of talent to work with.