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Utah vs. Arizona: Game-changing play

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Illegal or not, the play completely changed the complexion of the game.

Casey Sapio-USA TODAY Sports

I'm getting too old for this. #Pac12AfterDark is alive and well. The Arizona Wildcats upset the Utah Utes in double overtime, and it had all the drama.

My initial inclination was to immediately center this post around the game-winning touchdown pass from Jerrard Randall to Nate Phillips in overtime. That said, I'm going to try and stay true to the point and highlight the play responsible for affecting the most change in the course of the game, not necessarily the game-deciding play. And nothing changed the complexion of this game more than when Anu Solomon was knocked out of the game by Utah's Jason Fanaika during a collision on a QB scramble. The play was not flagged for targeting on the field, but there's an argument to be made that it could have been called.

From this point on, it was a completely different ballgame.

If Saturday night does not put to bed the Jerrard Randall over Anu Solomon debate, I'm not sure what will. Anu's stat line was outstanding before the injury: 17/27 for 277 yards and 2 touchdowns and, most surprisingly, 10 carries for 86 yards and a touchdown. The argument for Randall has always been his ability to keep defenses off guard with his legs, but Anu was doing a fantastic job of that tonight. The difference is Anu's ability to move the offense through the air, which Randall has showed time and time again he lacks.

Without Solomon behind center, Arizona's offense was one-dimensional and completely ineffective. Prior to the touchdown pass in overtime, Arizona ran 13 plays with Randall at quarterback. Those 13 plays netted 44 yards, an interception, and two punts. The only saving grace for Randall and the offense was that the defense played outside of their minds in the fourth quarter and overtime, holding Utah to only 3 points over that span. Randall looked lost, launching deep balls into double coverage, and even forcing Rich Rodriguez to use Arizona's only timeout in overtime on their first possession. Outside of the incredible catch by Phillips, Randall did not complete a single pass and contributed -3 yards on the ground.

This was a great win and Wildcat fans should enjoy it as long as possible. This snaps a three-game losing streak, makes Arizona bowl eligible, and provides momentum going into the Territorial Cup. But once the euphoria wears off, the stark reality is this: due to this game-changing play, there's a chance that Jerrard Randall will be the starting quarterback for Arizona against ASU, and that does not bode well for Arizona's chances to keep the Territorial Cup in Tucson.