Utah football: Utes head into bye week riding high
If BYU's administration was contemplating whether it wanted to continue its rivalry with Utah, Saturday's game may have settled it. The Utah Utes might not be invited back to Provo for many seasons to come after Saturday's 54-10 win.
The victory, the largest Utah win since 1922, came in such an unexpected, dominating fashion that even the Utes said it will take awhile to digest just how they managed to pull off one of the most dominating performances the rivalry has seen.
"There were so many positives," Utah coach Kyle Whittingham said after the game.
Luckily for the Utes, they can take a couple of days to enjoy everything from the forced turnovers, to the development of the run game to the growth of the offensive line and all the other superlatives that led to one of the Cougars' worst losses in recent seasons.
"No way did we think it would be like that," Utah quarterback Jordan Wynn said.
The Utes are on a bye this week, allowing them to put Saturday's win in perspective and enjoy a few extra days of preparation before hosting Washington on Oct. 1 in the school's first Pac-12 home game.
The Huskies (2-1), who lost at Nebraska 51-38 while the Utes were winning in Provo, host Cal on Saturday.
"It'll be good to have a bye week, but we aren't going in with the mindset we have a week off," Utah offensive lineman John Cullen said. "With Washington coming up in two weeks, we're going in it with the mindset that we have more time to prepare for them, so for us it's a big plus."
The Utes can start those preparations feeling much better about themselves than they did a week ago, when missed opportunities made their 23-14 loss at USC so hard to take.
The Utes failed to capitalize on good field position in Los Angeles, made too many penalties and never got their run game in gear. Saturday's game at BYU was a different story. The Utes were penalized just three times, found a run game in the second half and scored 31 points off BYU's seven turnovers, including a touchdown recovered in the end zone by Derrick Shelby a minute into the game.
"We were leading and we hadn't even been on the field yet," Wynn said of the offense.
While Utah's defense set the tone early, the offense finished it, scoring 47 unanswered points.
That the Utes were able to do so against the BYU defense was even more impressive considering the Utes lost their best lineman, Tony Bergstrom, to a knee injury in the opening quarter. Bergstrom might be out for only two to three weeks. While he'll be missed, his backup, Percy Taumoelau, played so well that Wynn said he felt like he was "in a rocking chair all night."
"I would drop back and bounce in there just because they were giving me so much time," he said of the line.
The key drive in Wynn's opinion was a six-play, 63-yard drive that ended in a 30-yard touchdown pass to Jake Murphy at the end of the first half.
Murphy would later leave the game with an injured shoulder, but his damage against the Cougars was enough.
"That is when we got the lead, and in the second half we really exploded," Wynn said. "You saw the capabilities of the playmakers of this team."
Yes, the Utes are finding those playmakers, and just in time. After the week off, the Utes won't have the luxury of days off to enjoy big wins with games against Arizona State, Pitt and Cal following the Washington contest.
"It's our first Pac-12 game at home," Utah coach Kyle Whittingham said of the Huskies. "We'll get excited about that."
For the Utes, there is much to be excited about this week.
Turnovers and a run game helped the Utes control the football Saturday. Here is a look at the time of possession by quarters.
Quarter Utah BYU Score
First 5:48 9:12 7-3, Utah
Second 9:49 5:11 14-10, Utah
Third 11:19 3:41 30-10, Utah
Fourth 5:47 9:13 54-10, Utah