Tom Smart, Deseret News
SALT LAKE CITY — A rainbow stretched across the sky over Rice-Eccles Stadium Saturday. Its colorful arch became visible near the end of a decisive and mostly rainy first half in Utah's 59-6 victory over Colorado State.
Good fortune followed, although the ninth-ranked Utes didn't really need it after building an 18-point lead in the second quarter. They improved to 7-0 overall and 4-0 in Mountain West Conference play while cruising to their ongoing league-record 21st consecutive victory at home.
"It was a good win. I thought we played well in all three phases," said Utah coach Kyle Whittingham. "The offense was obviously very productive with a bunch of yards, a bunch of points."
The Utes never trailed while racking up 648 yards of total offense (fifth-highest in school history) and 27 first downs in the rout.
Quarterback Jordan Wynn led the way by completing 23 of 29 passes for 321 yards and three touchdowns in less than three quarters of play.
"The offense, as a whole, we were clicking," Wynn said after Utah's largest margin of victory over Colorado State since a 55-0 decision in 1957.
"We just kept going," he added. "Stayed true to the game plan and just kept rolling with it."
The Utes converted on 11 of 15 third-down situations and averaged 9.4 yards per play. They had 13 players make catches, six gain positive yardage on the ground and a half dozen guys score touchdowns.
"We clicked. We came out and capitalized on all our plays," said running back Eddie Wide. "We just executed everything well."
Seven of Utah's scoring drives covered 62 yards or more. The last five resulted in touchdowns.
"The passing game really opened up the run game for us," Wide said. "Then we caught them blitzing and crowding the line of scrimmage."
Second-half scores included an 18-yard pass from Wynn to Shaky Smithson, a 1-yard run by Matt Asiata, a 36-yard scamper by Wide, a 5-yard toss from Terrance Cain to Griff McNabb, and a 72-yard jaunt by Sausan Shakerin.
The Utah defense got into the act as well. Colorado State's second drive in the third quarter resulted in a fumble. Derrick Shelby jarred the ball loose while sacking quarterback Pete Thomas. It was recovered by Christian Cox on the CSU 23, setting up one of the scoring drives.
Later in the game, an interception by Conroy Black led to a similar result.
The Rams were held to just 213 yards total offense and 13 first downs. They netted only 28 yards rushing on 24 carries.
"We got some stops and definitely eliminated their run game," said defensive end Christian Cox. "It was just big plays on 'd' that really turned the game."
Colorado State was stopped on third down 10 times and moved the sticks just twice.
"It's been a big part of our defense this whole year," Walker said. "We were just trying to get out of our drives any time we could."
Walker led a balanced defensive effort with eight tackles. Matt Martinez finished with seven. Six players contributed to six tackles-for-loss and five sacks. The Utes had three pass breakups. They forced the Rams to punt five times.
It didn't take long to set the tone.
Utah scored on the game's first series. A 1-yard touchdown run by Asiata on fourth-and goal capped a nine-play, 71-yard drive by the Utes. They tallied four first downs and benefited from three Colorado State penalties along the way.
The 7-0 score held firm until early in the second quarter. That's when the Rams capitalized on a fumbled punt return by Smithson. Ben DeLine kicked a 27-yard field goal less than two minutes after Derek Good pounced on the ball to give the Rams possession on the Utah 16.
After having their lead cut to 7-3, the Utes regained some breathing room over their next two drives.
The first ended with a 30-yard touchdown pass from Wynn to Wide. The second concluded with a 36-yard field goal by Joe Phillips, extending his school record with his 18th consecutive make.
Phillips set up the latter with a successful onside kick following the touchdown. He recovered his own kickoff after it traveled 11 yards.
The outburst gave Utah a 17-3 advantage midway through the second quarter.
Before the half was complete both teams added other scores.
Colorado State struck first when DeLine made a 26-yard field goal. Utah countered with a 71-yard touchdown toss from Wynn to DeVonte Christopher.
The exchange led to a 24-6 halftime lead for Utah.
"There were some flashes in the first half. I liked the way we played early, but we had some penalties and that never allowed us to sustain drives." said CSU coach Steve Fairchild. "When you get in the red zone you've got to score and we didn't do that."
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