Here’s what a Utah Ute and their mascot is following the No.11 seed upsetting No.4 USC to win the Pac-12 Championship.

No. 11 Utah beat No. 4 USC, 47-24, in the Pac-12 Championship at Allegiant Stadium in Las Vegas on 3 December. Heading into the game many believed the game would inevitably result in USC’s coronation as Pac-12 champions.

However, the Utes, who beat USC earlier this year on a last-minute two-point conversion, had other plans. In the teams’ second encounter, the Utes scored 24 straight points at one point to claim their second straight Pac-12 title.

Utah have also captured back-to-back Rose Bowl berths, after narrowly losing last year’s game to Ohio State.

“Our players never stopped believing,” head coach Kyle Whittingham said. “We had a chip on our shoulder. We got the message loud and clear that people were underestimating us.” 

The Utes will now take on No.9 Penn State in the Rose Bowl today.

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Photo by David Becker/Getty Images

What is a Utah Ute?

During the USC game fans wanted to know what a Utah Ute is.

The University of Utah athletics teams are reportedly known as the Utes in honor of the American Indian tribe for which the state of Utah is named. They have inhabited this area of the country for at least 1,000 years. There were originally 12 “Nuche”, or “The People”, bands throughout Utah and Colorado.

The Utes were among the first American Indians to acquire the horse as a means of transportation. In rock writing the Utes are depicted as horses.

Today, tribal headquarters are in Fort Duchesne, Utah, and the Ute Tribe. It has a membership of 3,300 and its own tribal government, which remains a vibrant part of the state.

Photo by Brian Murphy/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Swoop is the Utes mascot

The University’s mascot is Swoop, an anthropomorphic red-tailed hawk, which happens to be a bird indigenous to the state.

Swoop was first introduced in 1996 after the school’s original mascot, an American Indian and ‘Crimson Warrior’ in the 1980s, was no longer deemed culturally and socially acceptable.