Friday October 17th, 2014

CORVALLIS, Ore -- When Oregon State's Brandin Cooks caught the game-winning touchdown pass from Sean Mannion last season, he gave the Beavers a 51-48 double-overtime win over Utah in an instant classic.

Regulation was once again not enough to decide this Pac-12 battle, only this time without the fireworks. Utah rode its bullying defense to a 29-23 double-overtime win on the road, a game that saw just 12 points scored in the first half. 

The replay of the 2013 clash will be shown on television for years to come. The film from this game should probably be burned. It was downright brutal to watch at times as the teams exchanged punt after punt for most of four quarters. The 17 points the teams combined to put up in the fourth quarter represented a downright scoring frenzy compared to the 15 they managed the previous three quarters as the game devolved into a rock fight most of the night.

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Oregon State kicker Trevor Romaine boomed a 49-yard field goal through the uprights as time expired to force OT with the game tied at 16. But after a pair of touchdowns in the first extra session, Romaine pushed a 37-yard attempt wide to open the second overtime.

Devontae Booker sealed a Utah win with a 19-yard touchdown run, giving the No. 20 Utes a measure of revenge for last year's thriller.

Here are three thoughts from the game:

1. It’s time everyone start taking Utah seriously

To be clear, this game was plenty ugly. A combined 7-of-31 on third downs, too many punts to keep track of (the teams actually combined for 14 punts, but you get the idea) and overall ugly offense. But with the win, it’s clear that Utah needs to be considered a contender in the Pac-12 South.

This conference is all kinds of wacky, and back-to-back road wins have the Utes in a good position as they head toward a brutal stretch that includes USC, Arizona State and Oregon. If the Utes can get a win against one of those three, who knows what’s next? When Arizona visits Utah on Nov. 22, it could easily be for the Pac-12 South title. Road teams in the Pac-12 are now 15-4, but Salt Lake City isn’t an easy place to win (just ask Stanford).

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2. Travis Wilson, not Kendal Thompson, is the QB to play

Little-known Kendal Thompson deserves plenty of praise for going into the Rose Bowl and leading Utah to an upset win over UCLA. But it’s the veteran Travis Wilson, who started the second half, leading this team. His stats weren’t eye popping, but a team needs to know who’s in charge in the huddle, and Utah can count on Wilson for consistency.

Also worth noting: He’s a much better passing threat. However, both quarterbacks are good at understanding one thing: running back Devonte Booker needs the ball. Good things usually happen when he’s rushing, as he showed with 234 yards on 32 carries, including a critical second-half touchdown to go with the game-winner.

3. Utah’s front seven is terrifying

This conference is stacked with talented quarterbacks, and it’s safe to say that none of them is looking forward to playing Utah. The Utes' front seven, a mix of young and old talent, brings pressure every single snap. It’s suffocating. Oregon State QB Sean Mannion may have gotten off easy according to the stat sheet, sacked just five times two weeks after the Utes got UCLA for an even 10, but Mannion felt the heat on every play. The Utes entered the game with a national-best 28 sacks in five games. That number will go up and Utah’s front seven, and stifling defense in general, is why the Utes need to be considered a contender in the Pac-12 South.

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