This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2016, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.
Santa Clara, Calif.
As the first half ended, Utah coach Kyle Whittingham became so disgusted with his offense that he wouldn't even call a timeout and allow quarterback Troy Williams to launch one last pass toward the end zone from midfield.
Asked later what he was feeling at that moment, Whittingham said, "Just frustration."
The offensive players exited the Levi's Stadium field with some degree of embarrassment after Indiana's sacks on consecutive plays halted their drive in a tie game. But the Utes got it right, in the end.
Utah claimed a 26-24 victory, thanks mostly to Joe Williams' 222 rushing yards and Andy Phillips' four field goals including the game winner from 27 yards with 1:24 remaining.
Anyone wanting a fully satisfying, season-ending performance from Utah's offense in Wednesday night's Foster Farms Bowl undoubtedly was disappointed. Even so, the Utes came through when it mattered. Williams accounted for 64 yards on the final drive that started at Utah's 21 after Indiana's missed field goal, personally overcoming fourth-quarter fumbles by himself and Zack Moss.
And his inspired running led to the winning kick that made Indiana coach Tom Allen say his team was "tired of being close."
The Utes (9-4) finished with 470 total yards, but those numbers would have been hollow if not for the winning drive. Utah lost four turnovers (including a fumble on the opening kickoff) and kept settling for field goals in the second half, extending the theme of the regular-season finale at Colorado last month.
Yet one last field goal was good enough to give Whittingham his 10th bowl victory in 11 tries.
The offensive coaching staff showed some creativity for the bowl game with a package of plays for freshman quarterback Tyler Huntley, who had not appeared in a game since Oct. 8. His highlight came early in the second quarter when Zack Moss took a handoff and pitched the ball back to Huntley, who hit a wide-open Kyle for 36 yards to the Indiana 1. The flea-flicker led to Huntley's touchdown run for a 17-7 lead.
The Hoosiers responded with 10 points before halftime. The Utes managed to take a 23-17 lead into the fourth quarter after Phillips' two field goals in the third period. Indiana moved ahead 24-23 with a touchdown drive, then Williams' fumble after a long run to the Indiana 29 ended Utah's next possession. He responded in a big way on the next drive, leading to Phillips' winning kick.
Williams was dealing with illness that limited him to 26 carries. "You could tell he didn't have the stamina he usually has," Whittingham said.
But in his last game for the Utes after having returned in October from a month's retirement, Williams delivered a performance that evoked memories well, to him, anyway of Michael Jordan's "flu game" against the Jazz in the 1997 NBA Finals.
So how should we remember the '16 Utes? Let's just say the lasting impression is more favorable than it would have been, if the season had ended in November.
These guys teased everyone by becoming the last team to have beaten USC, and they threatened to win the Pac-12 South title and advance to the Rose Bowl or even the College Football Playoff. They just couldn't finish the job in late October vs. Washington or in November vs. Oregon and Colorado.
But the Utes responded well in December, beating an Indiana team that had played competitively in losses to Wake Forest, Ohio State, Nebraska, Northwestern, Penn State and Michigan.
So Utah will join those folks on the list of teams that beat Indiana (6-7), which is a lot better company than the opponents the Hoosiers beat: Florida International, Ball State, Michigan State, Maryland, Rutgers and Purdue.
The Utes will spend the offseason lamenting how they failed to capitalize on USC struggles in the South, and who knows when they ever will have have another chance like this year's?
The ending was satisfactory, though.
Whittingham suggested this week that Joe Williams might be considered the Pac-12's MVP for the second half of the season. That's debatable, but he certainly earned the Foster Farms Bowl's offensive award.