Foster Farms Bowl: Utah 26, Indiana 24, 5 Things That Matter, What’s Next For 2017?
Utah won a thriller of a Foster Farms Bowl, getting by Indiana 26-24 to give the Pac-12 a desperately-needed win.
Utah just doesn’t lose bowl games
And it just saved the Pac-12’s bacon, for the time being.
Granted, Utah shouldn’t have needed to work so hard to beat Indiana, but it’s a bowl win over a plucky Hoosier team that made it a fight.
IU had a shot to put it away, but Joe Williams made up for his fumbling issues with a determined, nasty few runs to help close out the final drive, and now the program has won the 13th of its last 14th bowl appearances going back to the 1999 Las Vegas.
This has always been a tough, physical team under Kyle Whittingham, and his teams have been able to come through in their last four bowls after getting rolled by Boise State in the 2010 Las Vegas.
17-4 all-time in bowls going back to 1938 – that’s pretty good.
Joe Williams figured it out
This is one of Indiana’s best run defenses in years, and it managed to do a decent job of bending, but not breaking. The Hoosiers forced Utah to kick four field goals, and they managed to force three fumbles and four turnovers in all, making up for the problems against a determined – but fumble-prone – Williams.
In his final game, Williams ran hard, tough, and with a purpose – especially on Utah’s final scoring drive – to finish with 222 yards and a score on 26 carries. And the Utes needed the production.
The passing game struggled – with Troy Williams connecting on just 11-of-23 passes for 178 yards and a pick – but Utah managed to survive. It wasn’t always pretty, but Williams and the Ute offense don’t seem to care much about appearances.
Indiana couldn’t take advantage of all its breaks
The Hoosiers turned it over three times, Richard Lagow only completed 14-of-39 passes, and Griffin Oakes missed a critical field goal attempt that allowed Utah to come back and win it on Andy Phillips’ fourth field goal of the night.
And now, for the second straight season, Indiana loses a heartbreaking bowl game on a kick. But at least the Hoosiers were in the bowl in the first place, and at least they gave Utah all it could handle.
It might not seem like much, but for a program that’s known little success for a long, long time, under new head coach Tom Allen, this performance showed that this might keep on rolling. There’s hope because …
What’s next for Indiana in 2017?
How will things change under Allen? Probably not all that much, with an offense that gets most of the key parts back – at least in the backfield. QB Richard Lagow and RB Devine Redding form a solid combination to work around, and they’ll need to be great with top receivers Ricky Jones and Mitchell Paige done. There’s no replacing guard Dan Feeney, but three starters return to what should be a good line.
The defense that made such tremendous strides should be better, with Ralphael Green on the nose the only loss. Ten starters return along with all the key backups – this should be the best Hoosier D in several years if everyone can stay in one piece. LB Tegray Scales will be an all-star everything will work around.
What’s next for Utah in 2017?
Utah always figures it out under Kyle Whittingham. Losing RB Joe Williams is the big problem, but QB Troy Williams is back along with a good-looking receiving corps that should be able to overcome the loss of Tim Patrick. Garrett Bolles should be one of the Pac-12’s best left tackles if he returns, but star guard Isaac Asiata is gone. In all, Utah might lose four starters up front, but again, it’s Utah. It figures it out.
The defense might need a little bit longer to be great again up front. DT Lowell Lotuleilei is too good not to be in the NFL, while Hunter Dimick and Pita Taumoepenu are done on the ends. Corners Dominique Hatfield and Reginald Porter will be missed in the secondary, but the linebacking corps has the potential to be a major plus.