With Cam Rising on the sideline, walk-on QB Bryson Barnes leads Utah over Washington State

Utes now 6-2 overall, 4-1 in the Pac-12, with their dreams of another trip to the title game still in tact.

Utah quarterback Bryson Barnes throws a pass during the first half of an NCAA college football game against Washington State, Thursday, Oct. 27, 2022, in Pullman, Wash. (AP Photo/Young Kwak)

Pullman, Wash. • Cam Rising never took off the yellow pinny.

Bryson Barnes took over from there.

The University of Utah’s walk-on quarterback led the Utes to a 21-17 victory over Washington State on Thursday night, overcoming a series of injuries and adversity along the way.

Barnes, who went 17-for-27 for 175 yards and a touchdown in the win, was not told he was starting until approximately 30 minutes before the 8 p.m. kickoff.

Rising had his left knee wrapped and walked with a limp when he spoke to reporters on Oct. 17, but his status Thursday came as a surprise nevertheless. The QB went through warmups but had a sleeve on his left knee. Then, on the first play from scrimmage, Barnes broke the huddle.

“Proud of Bryson Barnes,” Utah head coach Kyle Whittingham said. “Bryson Barnes came in in a pretty tough situation and performed well. He did a good job running the offense. We weren’t as prolific offensively as we were in some games this year, did have one turnover, but other than that, we did a pretty good job moving the chains.”

Added Barnes: “There’s always a possibility with things like that, and you have to be prepared either way, so when that time comes, you have to be able to step up to the plate and be ready to go.”

Hours later, Barnes and the Utes were leaving Pullman with the victory they needed to keep their hopes of another trip to the Pac-12 title game still alive. The Utes are one of three teams with one conference loss, while Oregon is the lone Pac-12 unbeaten.

Rising has been the Utes’ undisputed leader this season, throwing for 1,855 yards and 15 touchdowns. He also has six rushing touchdowns.

Barnes made a notable appearance in the Rose Bowl in January after Rising went down with a concussion.

Running back Tavion Thomas was not with the team Thursday night. His season has been a tumultuous one, but the All-Pac-12 back a season ago still leads the team in rushing yards (414) and is second in rushing touchdowns (5) behind Rising.

Instead, the Utes leaned heavily on freshman Jaylon Glover (20 rushes for 76 yards and a score) and Ja’Quinden Jackson (10 carries, 43 yards and a touchdown).