Utah grinds out seventh straight win over Colorado, 23-17
SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — Jaylon Glover ran for a career-high 107 yards to lead Utah to a 23-17 victory over Colorado in the Pac-12 finale for both teams on Saturday.
Glover paced a running attack for the injury-riddled Utes that generated 268 yards and his first career 100-yard game. Sione Vaki and Ja’Quinden Jackson added 68 rushing yards apiece.
“When Utah is playing its best, we’re running the football effectively, we’re dominating time of play, and we’re not turning the ball over,” Utah coach Kyle Whittingham said. “That’s who we are.”
Luke Bottari threw for 61 yards and ran for a pair of touchdowns while filling in for Bryson Barnes at quarterback. Barnes did not play because of an undisclosed injury. Bottari, who briefly transferred to California before returning during fall camp, took his first snaps at the FBS level.
“I was ready for anything when I came back,” Bottari said. “Whatever they asked me, I was ready to do.”
Utah (8-4, 4-4 Pac-12) beat the Buffaloes for the seventh straight time in the rivalry series.
Ryan Staub threw for 195 yards and a touchdown while making his first career start for Colorado. Travis Hunter had 107 yards and a touchdown on eight receptions.
The Buffaloes (4-8, 1-8) totaled 262 yards against Utah’s defense.
Utah’s offense stuck to the ground throughout the first half. Bottari attempted only three passes before halftime and completed all three. The Utes did not attempt a pass until the opening play of the second quarter and piled up 135 rushing yards by halftime.
Conservative play-calling worked well for the Utes on the opening drive. Utah ran eight straight plays, culminating in Bottari’s 2-yard keeper, to take a 7-0 lead. Connor O’Toole stripped the ball while sacking Staub on Colorado’s opening drive and Van Fillinger recovered to set up Utah’s scoring drive.
“Anybody with a football mind knows they’re going to run the ball,” Colorado coach Deion Sanders said. “They’re a physical, tough, hard-nose team that runs right at you and that’s what they did.”
The Buffaloes got on the board with a trick play in the second quarter. Jimmy Horn, Jr. took a lateral pass from Staub and hit a wide-open Dylan Edwards for a 30-yard score, cutting Utah’s lead to 10-7.
Colorado could draw no closer after halftime.
Bottari threw a 16-yard pass to Luca Caldarella on 4th down to set up his second touchdown run in the third quarter on a 1-yard keeper. Becker’s third field goal, a 31-yarder, extended Utah’s lead to 23-10 early in the fourth quarter.
Colorado cut the deficit in half on Hunter’s 18-yard catch midway through the fourth quarter. Utah ran the final 7:25 off the clock after getting the ball back, denying the Buffaloes an opportunity to drive for a tying score.
“We scored and left enough time, but they executed that last drive really well,” Staub said.
Colorado: A porous run defense and ill-timed penalties dashed any hopes the Buffaloes harbored of springing an upset.
Utah: Bottari, a senior walk-on, was fifth string on the depth chart in fall camp before making his first career start on Saturday.
Bottari transferred from Utah to California during the offseason in search of playing time but had a change of heart during fall camp and returned to Salt Lake City. He earned a chance to start in his first FBS game after Barnes was ruled out with an injury and then backup QB Nate Johnson entered the transfer portal two days after Utah’s 42-18 loss to Arizona.
Bottari earned the nod ahead of Brandon Rose who was originally slated to backup Cam Rising this season before suffering an injury in fall camp. Whittingham opted to go with the senior because of his in-depth understanding of the offense and praised Bottari for getting the job done.
“It wasn’t very flashy but he did what we needed him to do,” Whittingham said.
Utah will play in its third straight bowl game.
Colorado’s season is finished.
AP college football: https://apnews.com/hub/college-football and https://apnews.com/hub/ap-top-25-college-football-poll