Pac-12: Huskies' Defense Stifles Utes, Scores TD While Offense Bites Roses
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Back in the Minnesota Vikings' glory days, their ferocious defense did more than their share to compensate for the team's anemic offense.
Their front four was known as the Purple People Eaters, and they were full service dudes. Witty, too.
In one low-scoring game, one of them picked up a fumble and lumbered in for a touchdown. On the way back to their bench, he looked at the offense and said, OK, now hold 'em!
Seems like that was the Washington Huskies' game plan, too:
- All-Everything CB Byron Murphy rang up the Pac-12 Championships only TD on a freak pick six, while
- The offense ran up a whopping 38:12 of possession time, throttling the game clock as much as the defense was throttling the Utes.
The result was a 10-3 snot-knocker that's sending them to the Rose Bowl for the first time since 2001.
Washington beat Purdue and Drew Brees, 34-24, in no small part due to a defense that coulda been hired out by small countries.
It's not outta order, then, to think that Washington's defense would grab the spotlight in a major match such as the Pac-12 title game.
Especially when their opponent's defense was damn near as accomplished as theirs this season. It camed down to the Huskies doing more with their freaky interception than the Utes did:
Leave it to the Pac-12 to -- shall we say? -- soften game's dramatic ending.
Utah was facing fourth-&-clock to rustle up a game-tying TD in the closing moments of a desperate drive that had to reach paydirt.If that wasn't daunting enough, freshman QB Jason Shelly had to do it against what's widely acclaimed as college football's best secondary led by the nation's best CB:
Byron Murphy is currently the nation's highest-graded cornerback pic.twitter.com/JROJwGSPKa— PFF College (@PFF_College) November 29, 2018
Time to pause for an analogy of the human element in such cases.
In baseball, when an umpire's behind the plate and a famed control artist -- for example, Greg Maddux -- is on the mound, dude's gonna get the gray calls.
So, hitters had to expand their selection when facing him, which is rarely a good thing.
Conversely, if a hitter has established a reputation for knowing the zone -- think Mike Trout -- he gets the benefit of the doubt.
This in turn means pitchers gotta come in at some point, which works for Trout:
Football officials are the same way. They know who's who in the zoo.
Thus, two perspectives were at play in Washington's favor on the play in question:
- It takes brass balls to toss a flag on what could be a game-deciding play, and
- It's a redshirt freshman against a future NFL All-Pro.
That's a formula for a no-call, especially at game speed -- note the official's position -- as opposed to slo-mo:
So Woody felt like this shouldn’t be PI.— ▪️ δυsτiη τατε ▪️ (@dustintate) December 1, 2018
Utes' coach Kyle Whittingham wasn't as fatalistic, but his opinion and a fiver will get him a latté.
Utah's never been to a Rose Bowl. Dudes are making strides, but for another season, anyway, that's still the case.