It's been a highly productive season for freshman tailbacks across the country and that was highlighted Saturday, as Oklahoma's Samaje Perine set a new FBS record for rushing yards in a single game.
Arizona's Nick Wilson is one of those productive youngsters, and while he might not get as much press as others, he reminded folks not to forget about him with a terrific performance against Utah in a 42-10 win that will continue to boost the Wildcats' hopes of winning the Pac-12 title.
Wilson topped the 1,000-yard mark on the ground for the season with a 218-yard, three-touchdown performance on just 20 carries. He carried the offense at times against a normally tough Utes defense, flashing his speed on a 75-yard touchdown run. It was his vision and burst through the line, though, that really allowed him to have a banner day.
The Wildcats' starting quarterback, Anu Solomon, was just 8-of-17 passing and got harassed most of the day before leaving the game with an injury. He was later spotted on the sideline wearing a protective boot on his foot, but no update was given on his status. Backup Jesse Scroggins came in and did a solid job of handing off to Wilson and keeping the defense honest (four carries for 16 yards, 3-of-5 for 64 through the air).
Utah starter Travis Wilson was also replaced in the game, but that was mostly due to another ineffective outing in which he threw two interceptions.
Arizona coach Rich Rodriguez had a smart game plan of avoiding Utes defensive end Nate Orchard most of the night. One of the top NFL prospects on the team, the senior still managed to fight his way to a sack in the third quarter with the team clinging to life in the game and did show off his burst in chasing down runners from the back side when needed.
Utah wide receiver Kaelin Clay nearly followed up Orchard's sack with a momentum-changing punt return for a score on the very next play, but it was called back due to holding. The ace return man did have four catches for 33 yards but wasn't able to get free often and when he did, his quarterback was unable to connect with him.
The win by Arizona keeps alive the team's Pac-12 South title hopes, but only by a slim margin. The Wildcats will need to beat Arizona State in next week's Territorial Cup rivalry game and also need to have UCLA beat USC before losing to Stanford. Next week's matchup with the Sun Devils has a lot riding on it, and Wilson showed he is more than capable of carrying the load for the team in that one.