Coaches say all the time it’s not how you start a game, it’s how you finish it.
No. 19 Utah took that to heart on Wednesday night in the Foster Farms Bowl, following up an opening kickoff fumble with a game-winning field goal in the final 90 seconds to top Indiana 26-24 in a wild finish.
Running back Joe Williams was once again the focal point for the Utes offense and caused plenty of the late game drama in the first point by fumbling in Hoosiers territory to setup a go-ahead touchdown for Indiana. That put the team in a perilous position with minutes left in the clock but the veteran tailback churned his way for some big gains down the stretch — finishing with 222 yards and a touchdown — before setting up kicker Andy Phillips, who sneaked the game-winning ball inside the left upright from 27 yards out.
The Utah defense came up with one final stop after that to seal a victory on a night where they also recorded three sacks and three takeaways.
Richard Lagow had a rough outing over on the West Coast as the Indiana quarterback finished just 14-of-39 for 188 yards with one score and one interception. He was under siege most of the game by that tough Utes front seven, which only tailback Devine Redding was able to move the ball effectively through on his way to a 72 yard, one touchdown night on the ground.
There was plenty of fight in the Hoosiers in this one though and they came ever so close to capturing the program’s first bowl victory in 25 seasons. In the end though, it wasn’t enough to get past the Utes, which started slow but finished when it counted in the final minutes.
No. 19 Utah began the Foster Farms Bowl in just about the worst way possible with a fumble on the opening kickoff and a quick touchdown for Indiana less than a minute later. The Utes rallied behind some good defense and a couple of big plays down the field however and managed to head into halftime tied at 17-all.
Tailback Joe Williams once again powered the way for the offense and finished with 53 yards and a score on the ground while adding another 56 in the passing game as the result of an excellent screen play. He took some of the heat off quarterback Troy Williams (8-of-17, 131 yards) and his backup in freshman Tyler Huntley, who saw significant action in a series of sub-packages and scored a rushing touchdown off a keeper in a different look in the red zone.
Indiana’s offense struggled for most of the half despite punching it into the end zone on that initial possession. The team punted three times after short drives and fumbled twice, including once in the red zone, to allow their opponents back into the game and managed just a field goal despite a first and goal situation following a 53 yard catch and run from Ricky Jones.
The Hoosiers did make things interesting late in the second though, getting their own backup quarterback involved as Zander Diamont came in and tossed a perfect touchdown pass to Nick Westbrook from 36 yards out to tie things up.
The Foster Farms Bowl was always one of those postseason games that was pegged as a potential wild one given how the two offenses operate and the fact that both defenses were fairly stout during the year. If both teams can hang onto the ball in the second half, things could get very interesting out in the Bay Area.
The injury situation in Salt Lake City has gone from bad to worse.
Utah announced on Monday that tailback Armand Shyne was lost for the rest of the season after suffering a non-contact knee injury on Saturday.
“He’s done for the year unfortunately, so we’re down to our sixth running back,” head coach Kyle Whittingham said at his weekly press conference. “You deal with it and move on. We’ll figure it out. Don’t have an answer for you right now but we’ll have one soon.”
The team’s leading rusher with 373 yards and four touchdowns on the season, Shyne went down in the fourth quarter last week after rushing for 101 yards and a touchdown in a 36-23 win over Pac-12 South rival Arizona. He is the fifth starter to go down for the Utes this year, joining centers Hiva Lutui and J.J. Dielman, tight end Siale Fakailoatonga and defensive end Kylie Fitts.
Complicating matters for the team is they are already extremely thin at running back. Backup Jordan Howard was also hurt late in the game against the Wildcats and will not be available this week against Oregon State. Joe Williams was supposed to be the starter this year but retired two weeks into the season to focus on school and junior Troy McCormick is still injured and won’t play. True freshman Zack Moss will be a game-time decision but is expected to start and redshirt freshman Marcel Manalo is all that’s left on the depth chart after that.
Utah is 5-1 heading into their game against the Beavers in Corvallis but getting a sixth win to keep pace in the standings of the Pac-12 South won’t be easy at all given how perilously thin the team is at tailback.
J.T. Barrett rushed for 133 yards and a touchdown to make up for an underwhelming day throwing the football to help No. 2 Ohio State (5-0, 2-0 Big Ten) pull away from Indiana (3-2, 101 Big Ten). The Buckeyes used a big second quarter to create some separation from the Hoosiers and the defense clamped down on Indiana in the second half of a 38-17 victory in The Horseshoe on Saturday afternoon.
Despite the comfortable margin of victory, Ohio State head coach Urban Meyer will have some things he can drill into his team in the coming week. Barrett completed just eight of his 20 pass attempts for 91 yards with one touchdown and one interception. Against Indiana, on this day, it was not enough to prevent Ohio State from winning a game. It is, however, something that may not be as easy to overcome elsewhere this season. Fortunately for Ohio State, when Barrett can’t get things going through the air, he can take care of business on the ground. Barrett rushed 25 times for 133 yards and a touchdown to lead the Buckeyes. Curtis Samuel added 82 yards and a score and Mike Weber led the team with two rushing touchdowns in addition to adding 73 yards to the rushing total.
Ohio State’s defense was where Ohio State had a distinct advantage against Indiana. The Hoosiers caused some stressful moments for Ohio State, but Ohio State held their opponent to just 281 yards of total offense, with just 99 of those yards coming by way of the run on 40 rushing attempts. Indiana’s Devine Redding led his team with 78 rushing yards.
Ohio State will take to the road for the first time since taking care of Oklahoma in Week 3 next week when they head to Madison to take on Wisconsin. The Badgers will supposedly be rested up after suffering their first loss of the season at Michigan last weekend. Wisconsin was on a bye week this weekend. After a road game at Wisconsin, the Buckeyes travel to Penn State before returning home to take on Northwestern.
Indiana will be home next Saturday to host Nebraska. The Cornhuskers are 5-0 and will be coming in off a bye week.
A week after slaying Michigan State in Bloomington, Indiana is looking to take down a giant in Columbus. It’s not going all that well, with Ohio State taking a 24-10 lead to the half.
After a late Indiana touchdown, Ohio State returned the ensuing kickoff to the Hoosiers’ six-yard line. If the momentum did shift with Indiana’s touchdown drive, it quickly went back to the home team, as J.T. Barrett took off for a touchdown on the ground.
Curtis Samuel was averaging over 10 yards per rushing attempt before picking up a short touchdown run to put Ohio State up 17-3. The short touchdown run only brought his average down to 9.6 yards per rushing attempt. Barrett leads the Ohio State ground game with 59 rushing yards. Mike Weber also has a touchdown run in the game.
Indiana’s offense stalled for much of the first half but finally made some noise late in the half with a Richard Lagow pass to Mitchell Paige going 18 yards to the end zone with just over a minute to play in the first half. Just two plays prior, Lagow completed a 32-yard pass to Ricky Jones on 3rd and six to keep the drive alive.