In a defensive slog, No. 10 Washington Huskies (10-3) defeated the No. 17 Utah Utes 10-3 in the Pac-12 Championship Game at Levi Stadium in Santa Clara, CA. The last offensive play of the game for Utah (9-4), ended on a non-pass interference call, which irked head coach Kyle Whittingham and Utah fans.
During the post-game trophy ceremony, the remaining fans were still miffed about the no-call that they booed league commissioner Larry Scott. With the victory, Washington secured themselves a spot in the Rose Bowl.
The Pac-12 title game expected to be a low-scoring affair with the top two defenses squaring off. Utah was a +4.5 underdog in this contest. The bookies in Las Vegas set the over/under total at 45. Even that number seemed ridiculously high. Both teams combined for 13 points.
The only touchdown in the game came from a defensive score. In this quagmire, it seemed appropriate that a defensive player would be named the MVP.
CB Byron Murphy picked off two passes and returned one for a 66-yard touchdown. He also broke up several passes including the controversial final play against Siaosi Mariner. Murphy’s outstanding performance garnered him the MVP.
“You know, life isn’t easy,” said UW coach Chris Petersen. “A Pac-12 championship, is not going to be easy. It’s not reality. If it happens, go buy lottery tickets because it’s not going to be like that. That’s just luck. It is a grind, it’s hard.”
With less than a minute to go in the fourth quarter, the Utes were down 10-3 and needed a touchdown to stay alive. The Utes faced a fourth and long from the Washington 42nd yard line. Utah QB Jason Shelley threw a pass to Mariner, who got run into by UW’s Murphy before Murphy broke up the pass. Everyone in the stadium expected a penalty, but the officials did not throw a flag on the play.
It's fitting that the final play of the Pac-12 Football season is a terrible no-call by Pac-12 referees. Who knows what the #Utes do with a new set of downs in 30 seconds but this is clearly PI. #Pac12FCG pic.twitter.com/SUOKCRmfKC
— Jeremiah Jensen (@JJSportsBeat) December 1, 2018
Utah head coach Kyle Whittingham held back his criticism of the officiating in the post-game press conference.
Reporters asked Whittingham about being fired up about the non-pass interference call that determined the outcome of the final drive.
“Wouldn’t you be?” said Whittingham. “Did you see the same thing I saw? I don’t know what I can say without getting fined but I’m used to it.”
Whittingham had seen it happen many times before due to the overall lackluster officiating in the Pac-12.
Inspiring Season in SLC
Utah (9-4) went all the way to the title game without a starting quarterback and running back. The Utes loss Tyler Huntley and Zack Moss in early November.
Utah didn’t blink despite injuries to key players due to the “next man, up” mantra of the team.
“Everybody’s hurt,” said backup-turned-starting QB Jason Shelley. “We were that close. We played that bad and we still lost by only seven points.”
“I am proud of them,” said coach Whittingham. “Their resiliency, ability handle adversity and keep fighting. These guys apply that same toughness and attitude and mindset, they will all be wildly successful Because that’s who they are.”
The Pac-12’s decline continued this season. out of the five conferences from the Power Five, the Pac-12 proved to be the weakest this season. No teams will be representing the western coast powerhouse conference in the college football playoff. For the third time in four years, there will be no one from the west.
The Pac-12 screwed up an officiating decision early in the season. During the USC–Washington State game, the Pac-12’s general counsel overruled a play. Yahoo Sports broke the story and commissioner Larry Scott had to admit the gross error. Scott admitted the flaws in the current system and sought to correct the problem.
In the title game press conference on Friday, Scott elaborated on Wazzu/USC Fiasco. “Our athletics directors were all satisfied that this was an isolated incident,” said Scott. “And any other call in the game was not affected by the one call in question.”
During the post-game ceremony, the remaining crowd emphatically booed the commissioner during a trophy ceremony.
hmm how popular is Larry Scott? Let's go to the crowd audio feed: pic.twitter.com/MRA3xdBFnF
— Timothy Burke (@bubbaprog) December 1, 2018
Washington players could be seen holding back their laughter as the boos rained down from the sparse crowd at Levi Stadium.