With bowl hopes in the balance and a senior class vying for its fourth consecutive postseason appearance, Utah delivered a dominating first-half performance that paved its way to the postseason.

Senior quarterback Troy Williams, who last started against USC on Oct. 14, stepped in for injured starter Tyler Huntley on Senior Night at Rice-Eccles Stadium, and sophomore running bak Zack Moss ripped off punishing runs all night as Utah overpowered Colorado for a 34-13 win in front of an announced crowd of 46,022 who watched Utah become bowl eligible and knock Colorado out of bowl contention at the same time.

“I’m really, really pleased for our seniors to be able to end the regular season that way and insure – I assume insure – going to a bowl game,” Utes coach Kyle Whittingham said. “That’s how they deserved to go out, and it’s great to see the team respond the way they did tonight.”

Moss turned in a career-best 196 rushing yards and two touchdowns on 26 carries, along with a 25-yard reception. He surpassed 1,000 yards for the season in the fourth quarter. The Utes have now had an 1,000-yard rusher in four consecutive seasons and six of the past seven.

“I just wanted to will this team to a win,” Moss said. “My coach said this whole week that it was going to go through our room. We knew what type of team there were. They let up a lot run yards. I just prepared myself with extra film, just being locked-in in practice.”

Williams, a two-year co-captain, lost the starting job in preseason camp, then stepped in when Huntley suffered a shoulder injury in the Pac-12 opener at Arizona. He started games against Stanford and USC, both losses.

Williams, who found out on Friday after practice that he’d start Saturday’s game, passed for 181 yards and rushed for a pair of touchdowns night.

“My family was here, and I just wanted to put on a good performance for them,” Williams said. “The last time they was out here was the Stanford game. I wasn’t too proud of that. I just wanted to make them proud. At the end of the day, regardless of what I’ve been though, I’m blessed to be alive and just be here going to school, playing football.”

The Utes took a 7-0 lead after a six-play, 73-yard drive in which Moss inflicted punishment on the Buffaloes’ defense. He gained 63 of the team’s yards on the drive, including three carries for 38 yards and a 25-yard catch and run on a swing pass.

Moss capped the drive with a 15-yard touchdown run that included him lowering a shoulder and bulling his way through defensive back Nick Fisher, then dragging 6-foot-3, 240-pound linebacker Derek McCartney the final four yards to the goal line.

Following a missed 51-yard field goal attempt by Buffaloes kicker James Stefanou, the Utes marched 66 yards in four plays with the help of a pass interference call in the end zone on a pass intended for Darren Carrington II. Moss punched it in again, plowing through McCartney at the goal line and stepping over him on his way to his second touchdown of the first quarter.

The Utes started the second quarter with a 10-play, 88-yard scoring drive that included a pair of big completions from Williams to Raelon Singleton. Their first connection of the possession went for 14 yards and converted a third-and-11, and the second was a 40-yard strike that hit Singleton in stride on second-and-12 to put the Utes inside the Buffaloes 30-yard line.

Four plays later, Williams run up the middle for an 8-yard touchdown run to make it 21-0 with 10:29 remaining in the first half.

The Utes defense, which allowed 119 yards in the first half, forced the Buffaloes to punt late in the second quarter and give the offense one final possession starting at their own 26 with 1:43 left. The Utes drove 74 yards in seven plays with 1:20 coming off the clock. Williams completed 3 of 4 passes for 35 yards on the drive and rushed for his second touchdown of the half – a 9-yard scamper – with 23 seconds left to give the Utes a 28-0 halftime lead.

The Buffaloes’ first score of the game came on a Phillip Lindsay 7-yard touchdown run with 9:34 remaining in the third quarter before Utah kicker Matt Gay’s 37-yard field goal gave the Utes a 31-7 advantage going into the fourth quarter.

Buffaloes quarterback Steven Montez rushed for a 3-yard touchdown with 14:19 remaining in the game, but his two-point conversion pass got dropped in the end zone. Gay tacked on a 48-yard field goal with less than six minutes left for the final margin, as the Utes took a knee inside the Buffaloes 5-yard line with less than a minute remaining.

“There was a lot of energy tonight,” Moss said. “Being the last game, there was a lot of emotions. Everybody, I think, stepped it up a lot. It just felt good to go out there for these seniors and in front of the fans one more time.”