BOWL GAME PREVIEW: 109th Rose Bowl explosive Utah against Penn State; Utes Notes

For the second-straight season, the No. 8 University of Utah Football team is set for a top-15 battle in the Rose Bowl, taking on the No. 11 Penn State Nittany Lions on Monday, Jan. 2. The 109th Rose Bowl Game will kick off at 2 p.m. PT/3 p.m. MT on ESPN.

Fans can get behind the scenes views and live updates leading up to and during the Rose Bowl on social media by following the Utes on Twitter (@Utah_Football | @UtahAthletics) and Instagram (@UtahFootball | @UtahAthletics), and by visiting Fans can also search #GOUTES and #UBOYZ on social media for conversations about Utah Football.

For the 16th time under head coach Kyle Whittingham, the Utes became bowl eligible and will play in their fourth New Year’s Six Bowl, which includes back-to-back years in the Rose Bowl. Utah is 17-7 all-time in bowl games with Whittingham holding an 11-4 record, which ranks second among active coaches and inside the top-10 all-time. Utah is 3-1 in New Year’s Six bowls, beating Pittsburgh (35-7) in the 2005 Fiesta Bowl and Alabama (31-17) in the 2009 Sugar Bowl.

•    Utah became the third team in Pac-12 Conference history to win back-to-back Pac-12 Championship games (Utah, 2022, ’21; Stanford, 2012, ’13; Oregon, 2019; ’20).   
•    The Utes have seven 10-win seasons under Kyle Whittingham (2008, ’09, ’10, ’15, ’19, ’21, ’22).
•    Utah has nine consecutive years of winning seasons, including 2022, dating back to 2014. The Utes have finished with a winning record in 16 of Whittingham’s 18 years.
•    Utah is 25-15 in games when ranked in the CFP Poll since the CFP’s inception in 2014.
•    The Utes led the Pac-12 this season in first downs offense (342), rushing defense (107.0), scoring defense (20.4), team sacks (2.92) and tackles for loss (6.4), time of possession (33:33), total defense (325.3) and total offense (472.7).
•    Utah is one of five Power Five teams that rank in the top-20 in both total offense and defense with Utah ranking 17th and 19th in the FBS, respectively.
•    The Utes are only allowing 0.69 sacks per game this year, which ranks sixth in the FBS.
•    Utah has kept opponents to under 100 yards rushing in five of the last six games and seven times overall this season.
•    Utah has scored 30+ points in 10 of its 13 games this season, ranking eighth in the FBS in scoring offense with 40.0 points per game.

Each season, both the team captains and the leadership council are voted on by the team during fall camp. The Utes picked two offensive and two defensive captains along with the 16-member leadership council.
•    2022 Utah Football Captains: Cameron Rising (QB), Brant Kuithe (TE), Clark Phillips III (CB) and Devin Kaufusi (DT).
•    2022 Utah Football Leadership Council: Bryson Barnes (QB), Micah Bernard (RB), Cole Bishop (S), Braeden Daniels (OL), Solomon Enis (WR), R.J. Hubert (S), Devin Kaufusi (DT), Dalton Kincaid (TE), Brant Kuithe (TE), Paul Maile (OL), Andrew Mata’afa (LB), Clark Phillips III (CB), Karene Reid (LB), Cameron Rising (QB), Miki Suguturaga (DE), Devaughn Vele (WR).

Utah has 12 total student-athletes on the roster that have already received their degree and three who will complete their degrees in December.
•    Micah Bernard (Communications, Dec. of 2022), Keaton Bills (Family, Community & Human Development, May of 2022), Chris Curry (Communications, Dec. of 2022), Mohamoud Diabate (Sociology, May of 2022), Jaylen Dixon (Criminology/Sociology, May of 2022), Solomon Enis (Business Administration, May of 2022), R.J. Hubert (Communications, May of 2022), Clayton Isbell (May of 2022), Devin Kaufusi (Communications, Dec. of 2022), Logan Kendall (May 2022), Brant Kuithe (Communications, May of 2022), Andrew Mata’afa (Criminology, May of 2022), Gabe Reid (Management Science & Engineering, May of 2022), Cameron Rising (Psychology/Criminology, May of 2021), Thomas Yassmin (Mathematics/Quantitative Analysis of Markets & Organizations, May 2022).

Head coach Kyle Whittingham is the longest-tenured coach in the Pac-12 and the second-longest tenured coach at the same school in the NCAA FBS. He is 154-73 overall at Utah, becoming the all-time wins leader at Utah in 2021. He passed Ike Armstrong (141-55-15 in 211 games) with Utah’s historic win over No. 3 Oregon on Nov. 20, 2021. He has coached in 353 games at Utah (11 seasons as an asst.) and 227 as the head coach.
•    He has contributed to more victories than any coach in program history (239), including his 11 seasons as an assistant coach (1994-2004).
•    His 154 career wins as the head coach of the Utes ranks third among active FBS coaches at the same school and ranks 14th among active FBS coaches overall (most in the Pac-12).
•    He has led the Utes to at least a share of the Pac-12 South title in three of the last four seasons, and four times overall since joining the Pac-12 prior to divisions being dissolved in 2022. Under Whittingham, the Utes have won the Pac-12 Championship title in back-to-back seasons (2021, ’22).  
•    He has won three National Coach of the Year recognitions – two in 2008 and one in 2019. He was the AFCA Coach of the Year and Bear Bryant Award winner in 2008, and the Dodd Trophy Coach of the Year in 2019, also winning Pac-12 Coach of the Year in 2019 and 2021. He is also a finalist for the Dodd Trophy in 2022.
•    Whittingham has had 30 players make major All-America teams (those determining the NCAA’s consensus team).

Utah has become a staple in the AP, Coaches and College Football Playoff polls, holding its highest-ever finish in the CFP with its No. 8 final ranking this year.
•    Utah has ranked inside the AP top-20 through 14 weeks in 2022 (includes preseason poll), the longest streak since 2019 (17 weeks).
•    Utah is 71-24 when ranked in the AP Poll during the Kyle Whittingham era.
•    The Utes are also 25-15 in games when ranked in the CFP Poll.
•    The Utes have also performed well against AP Top 25 teams in the Whittingham era, recording 21 wins against ranked opponents, including top-10 victories over No. 4 USC (2022 Pac-12 Championship game), No. 4 Oregon (2021 regular season), No. 4 Alabama (2009), No. 5 Stanford (2013), No. 7 USC (2022), No. 8 UCLA (2014) and No. 10 Oregon (2021 Pac-12 Championship game).
•    Since the start of the 2021 season, Utah is one of just two schools to have four-or-more wins against AP top-10 teams (Georgia).
•    The Utes have made the final AP Top 25 seven times and the final Coaches Poll eight times under Whittingham.
•    Utah appeared in every weekly CFP top-25 for the first three years of the system (2014-16) and have the seventh-most appearances of any school with 41 total.
•    The Utes have appeared in the final CFP Poll in seven seasons (No. 22 in 2014 & 2015, No. 19 in 2016, No. 17 in 2018, No. 11 in 2019 & 2021, No. 8 in 2022).

Offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach Andy Ludwig is in his fourth year of his second full-time stint on the Utah coaching staff in 2022. Since Ludwig’s return in 2019, Utah has produced 1,629 points (35.4 per game), 196 touchdowns and 20,236 yards of total offense through 46 games, only committing 57 turnovers.
•     Through 13 games in 2022, Utah leads the Pac-12 in first downs offense (342), also ranking second in the FBS. Utah is averaging 26.3 first downs per game.
•     Extending drives has not been an issue for the Utes this season, ranking eighth nationally in third down conversions (.497). Since 2019, the Utes have converted 268 of 574 of their third down attempts (.467) which is the seventh-best mark in the NCAA.
•     Averaging 220.2 rushing yards per game, the Utes rank 10th in the FBS and second in the Pac-12 in rushing offense.
•     In the last 46 games that Ludwig has been at the helm of the offense, Utah has reached the 200-yard rushing mark in 25 games, including Utah’s season-high 383 rushing yards at Colorado (11/26/22).
•     In the last five games (Arizona, Stanford, at Oregon, at Colorado, vs. USC), Utah has averaged 269.4 rushing yards per game, scoring 16 of its 37 rushing touchdowns during that span (3.2 per game).
•     Utah is averaging 40.0 points per game this season, which ranks eighth in the FBS.
•     Utah has reached the 30-point mark in 10 of its 13 games this year, including seven games with 40+ points.
•     Utah’s seven games with 40+ points is the most in a season since 2004 when the Utes had nine on their way to a Fiesta Bowl win over Pittsburgh.
•     Utah eclipsed the 50-point mark twice in 2022, giving Utah 18 games under Kyle Whittingham. Utah’s 63 points at Colorado was the most in a conference game for Utah since joining the Pac-12 while its 73 points against Southern Utah was the most in a game since 1973, ranking as the third-most in program history.
•     The Utes’ 38 points in the second quarter against Southern Utah (9/10/22) was the most by Utah in any quarter since at least 1968 and the most in a quarter by any Pac-12 program in 2022.
•     Utah has outscored its opponents 520-265 this season, including 190-63 in the second quarter and 136-38 in the third.
•     The Utes are averaging 472.7 yards on offense per game, which ranks 17th in the FBS.
•     Utah has nine games this season with over 440 yards of total offense and is 9-0 on the season when they outgain their opponents.
•     In the last four games, Utah has averaged 508.7 yards of offense per game, hitting the 500+ yards mark in three of those games (514 vs. Stanford, 662 at Colorado, 533 vs. USC).  

The 2022 season is Utah alum Morgan Scalley‘s 15th year overall on the coaching staff and his seventh year as defensive coordinator. Called one of the brightest minds in the business, Scalley has developed the defensive identity that is known as R.S.N.B. – standing for relentless, smart, nasty, ballhawks – giving the Utes the reputation as one of the grittiest groups in the nation.
•    Utah enters the Rose Bowl Game allowing an average of 325.3 total yards per game—best in the Pac-12 and No. 19 in the FBS. It includes six performances holding opponents under 270 yards and contributes to the league’s second-best scoring defense (20.5 points per game). Only four times this season have Utah foes posted more than 21 points.
•    Utah has enforced a no-fly zone with the Pac-12’s second-best passing defense (218.3 yards allowed per game). Just two opponents this season (UCLA and USC) have recorded more than one passing touchdown against Utah. There have been four games this season in which the Utes have not allowed a passing score at all, second to Oregon State (6) in the Pac-12.
•    Utah’s rushing defense sits atop the Pac-12 (No. 16 in the nation) at 107 yards per game. That average has dropped thanks to four straight outings holding foes under 100 yards on the ground and seven total games on the season.
•    Many point to the second half vs. USC (Oct. 15) as a turning point this season for the Utah defense. After allowing 364 total yards before halftime in the regular season contest, Utah limited the Trojans to just 192 yards in the final 30 minutes, on the way to a comeback victory in an instant classic.
•    Beginning with Utah’s next game at Washington State (Oct. 27), the team has averaged 296.3 total yards allowed in its last six contests. It ranks No. 7 in the Power Five for that timeframe and is atop the Pac-12. It’s been an even sweeter tune when it comes to rushing defense with opponents mustering 66.2 yards per game on the ground vs. Utah since Oct. 27, entering bowl season ranked third of all Power Five squads.
•    Despite a loss at Oregon on Nov. 19, the Utes held the Ducks to just 59 yards on the ground and 2.4 yards per carry. It was a season-low for an Oregon squad that entered the game averaging 239.9 yards rushing each week. Utah locked it down in the second half, with minus two rushing yards allowed in the third quarter and just five in the final period.
•    Utah has allowed 206 first downs this season—fewest in the Pac-12 and No. 11 of all Power Five programs. That ranking is partly swung by the fact that of 10 Power Five teams ranked ahead of the Utes, eight did not play in their conference championship game (at the end of the regular season, Utah ranked No. 6 in the Power Five for first down defense).
•    Those rankings correlate with an opponent third-down conversion rate of 29.6% and a clip of 37.9% for opponents on fourth down—with the third-down figure leading the Pac-12. It comes on the heels of a lockdown effort in the Pac-12 Championship vs. USC. After giving up scores (TD, TD, FG) on USC’s first three drives, Utah allowed just a touchdown on the Trojans’ final nine possessions. During the middle two quarters the Utes earned a fourth-down stop, forced a punt, then stood tall on three consecutive three-and-outs (allowing a total of 35 yards).
•    The third-down defense figure is aided by an average of 3.5 three-and-outs per game (the Utes forced a season-best nine at Colorado). It has helped put the ball back in the hands of the Utes’ offense which boasts a conference-best 33:33 time of possession per week; it sits No. 3 of all Power Five teams.
•    In five of Scalley’s previous six years as defensive coordinator, the Utes have finished in the top-three in the Pac-12 in both total defense and scoring defense. It’s a trend that has continued into 2022’s bowl season, with the squad leading the conference in total defense (325.3 yards per game) and ranking second in scoring defense (20.4 points per game).
•    The Utes have finished in the top-three in the conference in sacks and tackles for loss three times under Scalley, leading the league in both in 2021 and 2016, while finishing the 2018 season ranked 11th nationally and first in the Pac-12 in sacks. Entering the Rose Bowl Game, Utah is averaging 2.92 sacks per contest, a Pac-12-best.
•    The 109th Rose Bowl Game will mark the fourth time that Scalley has been part of what now comprises the New Year’s Six: the senior captain had three tackles in Utah’s 2005 Fiesta Bowl win over Pittsburgh, the 2009 Sugar Bowl win over Alabama capped his first season as safeties coach, and he was on the sidelines for the Utes’ first Rose Bowl Game appearance last season.