This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2011, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.
There were fireworks, special presentations and mementos all celebrating the Utah Utes' first Pac-12 game at Rice-Eccles Stadium on Saturday.
Unfortunately for the Utes, they are learning that getting into the Pac-12 might have been the easy part. Surviving the league? That is another matter altogether.
Instead of being the memorable showing they'd hoped for, Utah's first Pac-12 home game turned into a night they'd rather forget as the Utes fell to Washington 31-14 in front of a crowd of 45,412.
The 12th-largest crowd in the stadium's history saw Utah quarterback Jordan Wynn play just a half due to a left shoulder injury. Down 10-7 at the break, Utah's hopes of a comeback were placed in the hands of backup quarterback Jon Hays.
Hays, a transfer from Butte College who was scheduled to play at Nebraska-Omaha this year before that program was disbanded, did his best against a level of competition he once never dreamed of facing, but he could do nothing to prevent the Utes from falling to 0-2 in the conference.
Hays finished 10-for-16 for 156 yards and threw an interception, one of five turnovers the Utes (2-2, 0-2) committed, but truth be told, this game was over even before he entered.
The Utes had three solid chances to score in the first half, reaching Washington's 32-, 11- and 3-yard lines, but failed to score on any of those drives.
Wynn threw an interception on one drive, receiver Dres Anderson fumbled on another and the Utes failed to convert a fourth-and-6 on the other.
Back when they were in the Mountain West Conference, the Utes might have survived such shortcomings and still won. But in the Pac-12? Forget about it.
"The storyline of the game, you can't turn the ball over five times against a quality opponent like Washington and win," Utah coach Kyle Whittingham said. "We got in the red zone twice and couldn't get it in."
Perhaps sensing they'd already seen the best of the Utes, the Huskies (4-1, 2-0) settled in the second half and dominated the Utes on both sides of the ball.
Chris Polk rushed 29 times for 189 yards, and quarterback Keith Price surely made the Utes regret their decision to stop recruiting him by throwing 22 for 30 for 226 yards and three touchdowns.
"The second half, they came out like a new team and we just didn't have it," said Utah defensive end Derrick Shelby.
As difficult as Saturday's game was, the future looks even more challenging, particularly with the injury to Wynn.
The junior walked off the field with helmet in hand and will be evaluated on Monday. Media members were not allowed to talk to Wynn, but Whittingham said the future "doesn't look good."
"It keeps coming out of joint," Whittingham said of Wynn's shoulder. "I don't want to speculate, but it doesn't look good."
Wynn had surgery on his right shoulder in December, leading to a lot of concern he wasn't 100 percent healthy. Now there is no need to speculate.
He is hurt, as is Utah's offense.
The Utes managed just 17 rushing yards as a team against the Huskies, who had one of the worst defenses in the country. What do they do now that they are down their starting quarterback and facing a string of difficult opponents, starting with Saturday's game against Arizona State?
"We'll have to modify things and play to his strengths," Whittingham said. "Obviously, the game plan tonight was all for Jordan. But we'll have to take a look at that on Monday and see. There's a chance maybe that Jordan will be able to play, I don't know. I don't want to jump the gun. But right now it doesn't look good."
Indeed, things don't look very good at all for the Utes.
R In short • The Utes lose their first game after a bye under coach Kyle Whittingham, falling to the Huskies for a seventh straight time.
Key moment • Jordan Wynn leaves the game in the second half with a left shoulder injury and doesn't return.
Key stat • Washington's Chris Polk rushes for 105 yards on nine carries in the third quarter. The Utes rush for 17 yards for the game.