The expectation heading into Thursday night’s contest with Washington State was that the backfield would look different. No one was prepared for just how different, though.

Cameron Rising opened the game on the sidelines, wearing his pads and jersey but with a yellow penny over them. Sophomore Bryson Barnes drew his first career start.

Asked why at halftime, coach Kyle Whittingham revealed very little to ESPN 700.

“Not available tonight,” he said.

The FS1 broadcast team was told that Rising’s absence was precautionary after being “banged up” in the USC game on Oct. 15.

Rising had a sleeve on his left knee when he went through warmups before the game. The all-conference quarterback met with local reporters on Monday and reportedly had the same knee wrapped up while walking with a noticeable limp.

“I’m still upright,” he told reporters then.

Rising is the engine for the Utah offense. He ranks fourth nationally in QBR, and has thrown for 1,855 yards and 15 touchdowns while also rushing for another 308 yards and six scores.

Barnes went 7-for-15 passing for 70 yards in the first half. Utah went into the halftime break up 14-7.