SALT LAKE CITY – Practicing at 6 a.m. in the sprinklers may not have made Arizona coach Rich Rodriguez popular with his players, but it made them feel prepared.
Coming from sunny Arizona to stormy Utah, freshman Nick Wilson ran for 218 yards and three touchdowns as the No. 15 Wildcats overcame an injury to quarterback Anu Solomon and pulled away from No. 20 Utah 42-10 Saturday.
“We were ready,” Wilson said. “That Thursday practice wasn’t really that bad. It was actually kind of fun.”
Not as fun as it was to run through, around and right by the Utes.
“I was fortunate the way the holes opened up the way they did. The offensive line made it easy for me,” Wilson said.
In heavy rain at times, Wilson had the most rushing yards ever for an Arizona freshman and topped the 1,000-yard mark this season. The Wildcats led 21-10 in the fourth quarter before Wilson scored on a 75-yard run.
Arizona (9-2, 6-2 Pac-12) reached nine wins for the first time since its 1998 Holiday Bowl team went 12-1 and was ranked No. 4. The Wildcats retain slim hopes for a berth in the conference championship game as a matchup with No. 13 Arizona State looms next week.
“I’m really proud of our guys. We played a really good football team on the road with inclement weather,” Rodriguez said.
The Wildcats ran for 298 yards, the most allowed by Utah (7-4, 4-4) this season.
“We aren’t the most impressive team getting off the bus, but getting on the bus after games like this may be a little more impressive,” Rodriguez said.
Solomon threw for 58 yards and got his first career rushing touchdown in the first half. He was fitted for a walking boot at halftime because of an apparent injury to his right foot. He will be evaluated today and Monday.
Backup quarterback Jesse Scroggins only threw five times, completing three, as the Wildcats relied on their potent rushing offense and opportunistic defense to turn the game into a rout.
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