Utah started the year 6-0 and ascended to No. 3 in the AP Poll before losing at USC, 42-24, on Oct. 24.
The worst part about that loss? Utah was a Vegas underdog against the then-.500 Trojans.
“Just having us being a road underdog, I felt like we didn’t have no respect,” Utah running back Devontae Booker said on CBS Sports Radio’s The Doug Gottlieb Show. “But we played horrible that game and USC got the best of us. We just had to build off of that and get two wins after those and continue to build it.”
Indeed, the No. 10 Utes (8-1) have won back-to-back games since losing at USC, beating both Oregon State and Washington by double digits. Utah was actually a road underdog at Washington but beat the Huskies, 34-23, this past Saturday.
“I just feel like we don’t get no respect as a team,” Booker reiterated. “Nobody sees us doing some great things. If we was a program like USC and all these big traditional schools, we would have more respect. But we play with a chip on our shoulder every week and go out there and prove teams wrong and prove everybody in the country wrong that we can play with (anyone).”
While Utah may not get the respect it deserves, Booker does. The senior has rushed 234 times for 1,116 yards – 4.8 yards per carry – and 10 touchdowns this season. He also has 34 receptions for 303 receiving yards, which rank second and third on the team, respectively.
Booker, 23, does not in any way regret forgoing the NFL Draft for another season in Salt Lake.
“I came back to get my degree,” he said. “That was most important for me. Why not come back and finish? The money wasn’t important to me at the time. I’ve never had a doubt in my mind (that it was the right decision). What’s really most important to me was to come and get my degree.”
Utah, which plays at Arizona (5-5) this Saturday, could still sneak into the College Football Playoff. If the Utes win out, they would be 12-1 and have wins over Michigan, Oregon, Cal, UCLA, and, in all likelihood, Stanford.
Booker was given an opportunity to make a pitch to the playoff committee, but he’d rather just let his play do the talking.
“I don’t know what I really would say (to them),” Booker said. “It’s up to the committee people to look over the games and vote us in. I care about it a lot, but I don’t know what I would say to argue with them about it. We just got to continue to do what we got to do as a team and go out there and win every week so there couldn’t be no argument at all as to why we shouldn’t play in it.”