Utah football: Defense picks on freshman Connor Halliday
Pullman, Wash. • Utah's defense had a hunch it might get a few picks against a still-green quarterback Saturday. Turns out, the defenders were right.
Utah picked off Washington State quarterback Connor Halliday four times Saturday.
Halliday, making his first start of his career, threw three interceptions in the first half as Eric Rowe, Mo Lee and Brian Blechen all had interceptions.
The fourth came in overtime when Lee stepped in front of a pass and hauled the ball down for his second interception of the day.
Saturday's defensive effort ran Utah's total to 18 interceptions for the season, making this one of the most productive seasons for interceptions by the Utes.
In 1990, the Utes had 18 interceptions, and in 2008 the Utes had 19. Utah had a school-record 28 interceptions in 1947.
The Utes entered the game leading the Pac-12 in interceptions and ranking ninth nationally.
"I know you get sick of me saying this, but takeaways are the key," Utah coach Kyle Whittingham said. "We came out on the plus side of the margin and that is a big part of our formula to win games as everybody knows."
The school record for a game was seven against BYU in 1948. The most in a recent game was five against BYU in 2008.
The Utes were penalized 11 times for 105 yards, and the Cougars were penalized six times for 65 yards.
The Utes were averaging 49.7 yards in penalties a game.
"It was sloppy play," Whittingham said. "There are times when you get penalized for some things that you can live with but ignorant penalties, that is something that hasn't shown up the last three or four weeks. Today we had way too many of them."
Cold game II
The temperature at kickoff Saturday in Pullman was 27 degrees. A week ago it was 31 degrees when the Utes kicked off at home against UCLA for the Utes' second-coldest game time at Rice-Eccles Stadium since 1998.
Utah backup linebacker Jacoby Hale suffered a concussion. â¦ Washington State honored 14 seniors before Saturday's game. â¦ Tickets still remain for Utah's game against Colorado.