SALT LAKE CITY — Utah’s bid to become bowl eligible is down to a pair of opportunities following Saturday’s 33-25 loss to Washington State at Rice-Eccles Stadium. The Utes will need a win at Washington this weekend or a victory against Colorado at home on Nov. 25 in order to make it happen.
“We’re 5-5 with two more chances. We have a tough road game in Seattle with a team that will be ticked off after being beat (Friday) night. Then we have the last game here,” said Utah coach Kyle Whittingham. “We are fully aware we need to find one to get these seniors to a bowl.”
Wide receiver Demari Simpkins vows the team isn’t going to give up.
“We are not going to lay down. We will keep fighting and next week we have another chance to get bowl eligible. That is the goal,” he said. “We always keep a positive attitude and we just did not make plays when we had to. We had too many turnovers.”
Seven (four interceptions, three fumbles) proved to be too much to overcome. Even so, Utah did have two possessions in the closing minutes with an opportunity to force overtime.
“The kids are resilient. They never quit,” Whittingham said. “They could have wilted but thet battled to the end. They did not flinch. A lot of things could have happened to see it get out of hand.”
Former Logan High quarterback Luke Falk became the Pac-12’s career leader in touchdown passes in the win for Washington State. Three of the senior’s 69 pass attempts went for scores.
“It was fun, especially being a defensive back,” said Utah safety Corrion Ballard. “It’s a dream to go against a team that throws it that much.”
Ballard and Kenric Young recorded interceptions for the Utes. The defense held Washington State to 3.9 yards per play and forced the Cougars to attempt five field goals (making four) — often out of short-field situations.
“You just have to keep working. It’s the game of football,” Ballard said. “Sometimes you are put in a bad situation and you have to pick up the slack.”
Despite the turnovers, Utah’s offense wound up with more yards (364-338) and first downs (27-20) than Washington State. Quarterback Tyler Huntley finished with 305 yards passing and a team-high 51 yards rushing.
“Washington State did a nice job of taking the ball from us,” Huntley said. “We did not do a good job keeping the ball. It all came down to the end. Give it to them, they played a great game.”
EXTRA POINTS: Utah’s game at Washington Saturday is set for 8:30 p.m. (Mountain) and will be broadcast on ESPN . . . Linebacker Donavan Thompson finished with a game-high 12 tackles . . . Defensive end Bradlee Anae registered Utah’s lone sack . . . The Utes have five pass breakups and four tackles for loss . . . Wide receiver Raelon Singleton led Utah with six catches. Samson Nacua and Simpkins wound up with five and four, respectively . . . Simpkins also had a 53-yard kickoff return . . . Washington State now leads the all-time series with Utah by an 8-7 margin . . . The Utes are 3-3 at home this season . . . For the fourth time since joining the Pac-12 in 2011, Utah will finish with a losing record inn conference play.