August Miller, Deseret News
SALT LAKE CITY — Jordan Wynn hasn't forgotten about his first collegiate start on the road.
Some things stick with a guy.
A week after making the best starting debut ever by a freshman quarterback at the University of Utah — passing for 297 yards and two touchdowns in a 45-14 win over New Mexico at Rice-Eccles Stadium — the teenager found himself in a much more difficult situation.
It dawned on him as he walked into TCU's Amon G. Carter Stadium last November. A packed house, the largest in stadium history (50,307), was on hand to watch the fourth-ranked Horned Frogs take on the No. 14 Utes.
Wynn slept well the night before.
"I've never been one to be nervous," he said.
Upon entering the stadium, though, his thoughts included concerns about the large, hostile crowd, future NFL defenders Jerry Hughes and Daryl Washington, and the fact that he was just a few months removed from high school football.
"There was a lot of stuff running through my mind," Wynn said. "That was a little bit of an eye opener."
It didn't help that TCU jumped out to a 28-point lead in the first half. One of the scores came on an interception return.
Wynn, however, eventually settled in and completed 16-of-32 passes for 219 yards and a touchdown in the 55-28 setback.
"It was tough to go down there. They pretty much killed us," Wynn said. That was really one of the first losses I've ever taken that was so bad in my whole football career. But you just learn from it."
The silver lining was the second half. Wynn felt he played pretty well and took care of the football.
The game, he continued, wound up being a "huge growing tool" in his development.
"Being on the road against a team like that, with a defense like that, I definitely took a lot away from that game," said Wynn, who went on to pass for 1,329 yards and eight touchdowns on the season. He capped things off with MVP honors in the Poinsettia Bowl win over California.
"All the experience Jordan was able to get last year was big for him this year," Utah coach Kyle Whittingham explained, noting that Wynn has picked up where he left off.
The sophomore enters Saturday's showdown between undefeated Utah and TCU ranked 11th in the nation and first in the Mountain West Conference in pass efficiency (162.4 rating). Wynn has completed 112-of-162 passes for 1,431 yards and 13 touchdowns over six games this season.
"I'm definitely more comfortable," he said.
TCU coach Gary Patterson has noticed. He's well aware of Wynn's background and accolades.
"He just keeps doing what they want him to do," Patterson said.
Wynn's progress from a freshman making his first road start to an established sophomore is duly noted.
"There is not a comparison," Patterson said. "He's a completely different player, obviously."
Whittingham, who was impressed that Wynn took some hard hits from TCU last year and kept getting up, is understandably pleased with the progress. Wynn has won eight of his nine starts since the game in Fort Worth, including a 6-0 mark this season.
"He's a cool customer," Whittingham said. "He handles situations very well."
This weekend's game with its Bowl Championship Series and conference title implications, however, takes things to a whole new level.
It's a challenge Wynn relishes. He's quite focused on the task at hand — moving the chains against a stingy Horned Frogs defense.
Utah's offense averages 449.6 yards per game, while TCU tops the nation defensively by allowing just 217.3 yards per outing.
"I'm pretty motivated," Wynn said. "It's going to be a lot of fun Saturday."
No. 4 TCU (9-0) vs. No. 6 Utah (8-0)
Saturday, 1:30 p.m.
TV: CBS C Radio: 700 AM
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