SALT LAKE CITY - The Arizona Wildcats prepared all week for Utah. And though they couldn't replicate the Utes' size, or Salt Lake City's elevation or weather, they nailed one thing perfectly.
With 8 minutes remaining in Saturday's 34-24 win over the Utes, the team came to life on the sideline.
The team's travel roster, coaches and trainers all bounced like fools as House of Pain's "Jump Around" blared over the Rice-Eccles Stadium speakers.
Unbeknownst to Utah, the Wildcats had blared the song in practice all week. Coach Rich Rodriguez, eager to get his team to show emotion, insisted that everybody jump — and dance — all week long.
"The crowd was looking at us like, 'What are these guys doing?'," center Kyle Quinn said. "But that’s our song."
Saturday was a night to celebrate, even if the visitors didn't play their best game. Arizona scored 17 fourth-quarter points on the way to its first road victory in a year, and just the team's second away from home win since Nov. 1, 2010.
With Saturday's win, Arizona (7-4 overall, 4-4 Pac-12) improved its bowl standing while eliminating the Utes (4-7, 2-6) from the postseason. The UA will wrap up its regular season Friday with a Territorial Cup game against rival Arizona State.
The Wildcats had opportunities to put the hosts away early, but fumbled them away. A pair of muffed exchanges, including one on Utah's 8-yard line, kept the UA from two scoring opportunities. The Utes turned a fake field goal into a touchdown when Coleman Petersen scampered untouched into the end zone. Arizona forced a Utah fumble in the third quarter, but was unable to pounce on the ball and the Utes recovered. Minutes later, Petersen - yep, him again - booted a 24-yard field goal that tied the game.
Saturday's game turned when more Utah trickery failed.
The Utes were facing fourth-and-six from Arizona's 39 with 12:27 remaining when punter Sean Sellwood faked and threw to Mike Honeycutt. Honeycutt caught the ball with room to run, but was caught from behind by Kylan Butler, a backup running back forced into special teams duty.
"I told Kylan Butler, that was the play of the game, without question," coach Rich Rodriguez said. "If he doesn’t get him, (Honeycutt) might still be running. I thought he made a tremendous play."
Four plays and 41 yards later, the Wildcats re-took the lead. Matt Scott's 18-yard touchdown pass to Austin Hill gave the Wildcats a 31-24 edge and, perhaps more importantly, took a rowdy, if chilly, Utah crowd out of the game.
Scott was sloppy at times in his first game back since suffering a concussion two weeks ago against UCLA. The Wildcats' fifth-year senior completed just 12 of 27 passes for 160 yards and one score. He ran 13 times for 74 yards and a touchdown.
And, in what's fast becoming his calling card, he threw up twice.
Scott hurled onto the Rice-Eccles Stadium turf in the first half after making the third in a series of long runs. Scott, a self-described puker who gets sick when he runs, stayed in the game.
"Too much Gatorade," Scott said afterwards. "I felt good. Honestly, we had a couple miscues on offense early, but the defense picked up the slack for us. We were able to get the win."
Arizona led by three points at halftime, then watched as Utah stormed back. Travis Wilson found DeVonte Christopher for a 36-yard touchdown late in the third quarter, breaking a tie and giving the Utes a 24-17 lead .
The Wildcats countered with a Daniel Jenkins touchdown early in the fourth quarter, and the teams were even again.
Jenkins finished with 42 yards on seven carries in relief of Ka'Deem Carey.
A week after setting the Pac-12's single-game rushing mark, Carey did something nearly as impressive: He ran through Utah's formidable defensive front. The Canyon del Oro High School graduate had 204 yards on 26 carries and scored a touchdown despite being slowed by a handful of injuries. Carey was limited in practice all week and clearly not himself at times Saturday night.
"I was there when my team needed me," he said. "I just had to stick it out."
Carey leads the nation with 1,585 rushing yards. With 18 yards against Arizona State, the sophomore will set the UA's single-season rushing record.
The Wildcats put up 480 yards of offense, and had 27 first downs on 73 offensive plays.
Arizona's defense stiffened up when it needed to. The Cats forced stops on the Utes' last three drives, storming the field when the clock read all zeros.
They then rushed to a chartered flight home, to celebrate. They probably jumped around a bit, too.
"We heard the song," linebacker Sir Thomas Jackson said. "They should have never done that."