Colorado edges Utah to put UCLA in Pac-12 title game
SALT LAKE CITY – Inheriting a lengthy losing streak in road games never sat well with Colorado Buffaloes coach Jon Embree.
A program that had produced Heisman Trophy winners and won a national championship had no business dealing with such futility from Embree’s perspective.
When Coleman Petersen missed a 48-yard field goal try with 2 seconds remaining to seal Colorado’s 17-14 victory over Utah on Friday, Embree and his players could finally feel some relief. The Buffaloes ended a 23-game road losing streak in their season finale and dashed the Utes’ hopes for playing in the Pac-12 championship game.
“That was our No. 1 goal going into this season, to end that streak,” Embree said.
“This is awesome. I’m happy for those kids. It was four years of not winning on the road. And for them to finally get that (win), they see what it feels like.”
Petersen missed all three attempts after entering the contest leading the Pac-12 in field goals made with 17. With the loss by Utah (7-5, 4-5), UCLA will represent the South in the inaugural Pac-12 title game.
Tyler Hansen passed for 264 yards and rushed for a touchdown and threw for another to lead Colorado (3-10, 2-7), which won outside its home state for the first time since Oct. 27, 2007, when the Buffaloes beat Texas Tech 31-26.
“We kept fighting,” Hansen said. “We kept going at it. Slowly but surely, things started to turn our way.”
The senior quarterback set the right tone for Colorado. In the first quarter, Hansen went 10 of 15 for 154 yards passing to help the Buffaloes seize an early lead. Embree praised his quarterback’s resilience after struggling away from home previously this season.
“Tyler was great,” Embree said. “He has struggled on the road. I told him before the game just to relax and go have fun.”
Colorado dominated from the start. At halftime, the Buffs led 10-0 and held a 254-39 total-yardage advantage and 111/2-minute edge in time of possession.
Utah running back John White left the game in the third quarter with a left ankle injury. He carried 10 times for 28 yards.
Utah had everything to play for and Colorado nothing, other than pride for 26 seniors who had never won a road game.
The Utes had won four straight. A win Friday, coupled with an Arizona State loss against California on Friday night and UCLA loss against Southern California tonight, and Utah would win the Pac-12 South.
Colorado had other plans.
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