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Utah Utes football: Offense hits on all cylinders in blowout win over Rams

Published: Friday, Sept. 4 2015 5:28 p.m. MDT

Utah's #36 Eddie Wide is tripped up by CSU's #16 Jake Galusha in today's game at Rice-Eccles Stadium. (Scott G. Winterton, Deseret News) Utah's #36 Eddie Wide is tripped up by CSU's #16 Jake Galusha in today's game at Rice-Eccles Stadium. (Scott G. Winterton, Deseret News)
Utah coach Kyle Whittingham didn't really want to talk about the Bowl Championship Series rankings after Saturday's 49-16 win over Colorado State at Rice-Eccles Stadium.
He said it's a topic the 14th-ranked Utes really don't discuss — even with an 8-0 record on the eve of the first posted BCS standings of the season.
"People don't believe us, but we don't ever talk about that — ever. We just talk about the next opponent and talk about trying to improve each week," Whittingham said. "There is none of that banter in our building. We're focused. You only control what you control, and that's going out and playing your best football every Saturday."
Utah's absolute best, though, has yet to come — even after racking up 549 yards in total offense and shutting down the Rams (298 yards).
Utah's #16 David Reed makes the grab and scores a TD just before the half as Utah plays Colorado State at Rice Eccles Stadium today. (Scott G. Winterton, Deseret News) Utah's #16 David Reed makes the grab and scores a TD just before the half as Utah plays Colorado State at Rice Eccles Stadium today. (Scott G. Winterton, Deseret News)
"It was our cleanest performance as an offense this season. It was our most consistent performance of the season," said Whittingham, who noted that the defensive numbers were also pretty good. "We were not as dominant on special teams as I would have liked, so there are things that we have to work on."
The Utes, who are now 4-0 in Mountain West Conference play, have plenty of time to iron things out. They have a bye week before returning to action Nov. 1 at New Mexico.
The Rams, meanwhile, fell to 3-4 and 1-2.
"We came in and played a great football team," said CSU coach Steve Fairchild. "We came out in the first half with our physical-ness and effort, but it got out of our hands."
Utah held a 28-13 advantage at halftime.
The Utes scored twice down the stretch after having their lead cut to four points on a 25-yard field goal by CSU's Jason Smith with seven minutes remaining in the second quarter. It followed Brian Johnson's seventh interception of the season and a 55-yard return by cornerback Nick Oppenneer that put the Rams in scoring position.
Utah's Paul Kruger nearly loses his helmet as he attempts to knock down a pass from Colorado State quarterback Billy Farris and offensive lineman Cole Pemberton tries to block him out during the Utes' game against the Rams Saturday in Mountain West Conference NCAA football action at Rice-Eccles Stadium in Salt Lake City. The Utes won 49-16 and improved to 8-0 on the season.  (Tom Smart, Deseret News) Utah's Paul Kruger nearly loses his helmet as he attempts to knock down a pass from Colorado State quarterback Billy Farris and offensive lineman Cole Pemberton tries to block him out during the Utes' game against the Rams Saturday in Mountain West Conference NCAA football action at Rice-Eccles Stadium in Salt Lake City. The Utes won 49-16 and improved to 8-0 on the season. (Tom Smart, Deseret News)
Oppenneer wasn't as fortunate when Utah got the ball back. The Utes set up Matt Asiata's second 3-yard touchdown run of the game when receiver David Reed jumped higher than Oppenneer for a 37-yard reception near the right sideline.
Before the half was complete, Reed teamed with Johnson on a 33-yard touchdown pass to give Utah an increased margin of comfort with 1:18 to go.
CSU did close the gap, though, on a 38-yard field goal by Smith as time expired in the first half.
When play resumed in the third quarter, the Rams crept a little closer when Smith connected on a career-best 52-yard kick to make it 28-16.
Utah answered the challenge decisively — with three consecutive touchdown drives — one late in the third period and two early in the fourth.
The first response followed an interception by Chaz Walker near midfield. He picked off a pass by CSU's Billy Farris, who was hit by defensive end Paul Kruger while attempting the throw. Just over two minutes later, Louks scored on a 21-yard run.
Utah backup quarterback Corbin Louks runs in the open field for a 69-yard touchdown during the Utes' game against the Colorado State Rams Saturday in Mountain West Conference NCAA football action at Rice-Eccles Stadium in Salt Lake City. The Utes won 49-16 and improved to 8-0 on the season. (Scott G. Winterton, Deseret News) Utah backup quarterback Corbin Louks runs in the open field for a 69-yard touchdown during the Utes' game against the Colorado State Rams Saturday in Mountain West Conference NCAA football action at Rice-Eccles Stadium in Salt Lake City. The Utes won 49-16 and improved to 8-0 on the season. (Scott G. Winterton, Deseret News)
Two additional touchdowns followed. A 34-yard TD run by Jereme Brooks and a 69-yard scoring scamper by Louks put the game well out of reach with 9:30 to go. Louie Sakoda added his seventh PAT of the game to cap the rout.
"We had a very balanced offense. We played with a chip on our shoulder, came out and put something together today," Johnson said.
"We hadn't done that for a few weeks, but we have so many playmakers so we felt confident today.
"Everyone did a great job," he continued. "Everyone touched the ball and was involved with the win."
Contributions were plentiful as the Utes extended the nation's longest active winning streak to nine games, a mark they share with Penn State and Texas Tech.
Louks led eight rushers in positive yardage with 109 on just five carries.
Utah's Freddie Brown, left, catches a touchdown pass as Colorado State's Jake Galusha, top, and Nick Oppenneet defend during the Utes' game against the Rams Saturday in Mountain West Conference NCAA football action at Rice-Eccles Stadium in Salt Lake City. The Utes won 49-16 and improved to 8-0 on the season.  (Tom Smart, Deseret News) Utah's Freddie Brown, left, catches a touchdown pass as Colorado State's Jake Galusha, top, and Nick Oppenneet defend during the Utes' game against the Rams Saturday in Mountain West Conference NCAA football action at Rice-Eccles Stadium in Salt Lake City. The Utes won 49-16 and improved to 8-0 on the season. (Tom Smart, Deseret News)
"The offensive line made big lanes for me to run through all day," he said. "The wide receivers did a great job blocking on the perimeter. That just came together and the running game was effective the entire day."
Utah wound up with 327 yards on the ground and 222 in the air. Brooks led six Utes with catches by hauling in six.
Linebacker Stevenson Sylvester topped the defense with nine tackles, and 25 others made at least one stop. Aiona Key highlighted the special teams units by blocking a punt for the second consecutive game.
"We have a lot of playmakers. There are only so many touches for the offense and we have a lot of team guys here," Whittingham said.
"Everyone contributed and helped out."
Neither team punted in the opening quarter. CSU did, however, kick it away on the first play of the second. Utah's defense forced the Rams into a fourth-and-16 predicament after making three consecutive tackles-for-loss. Kruger and Joe Dale made the first two, while Koa Misi and Sylvester combined on the third stop.
Utah's David Reed scores a touchdown against Nick Oppenneer of Colorado State during their game at Rice-Eccles Stadium at the U. on Saturday afternoon. The Utes won 49-16.  (Michael Brandy, Deseret News) Utah's David Reed scores a touchdown against Nick Oppenneer of Colorado State during their game at Rice-Eccles Stadium at the U. on Saturday afternoon. The Utes won 49-16. (Michael Brandy, Deseret News)
"We couldn't wait to get back on the field," Kruger said after the Utes gave up a score on CSU's first drive. "Coach (Gary) Andersen got us ready and made adjustments that really helped a lot. We knew we were a better defensive unit than that. We were excited to go out and prove it."
Utah led 14-7 at the time and remained on top for the remainder of the game.
The Utes scored on their first two possessions, with Johnson completing 8-of-9 passes for 71 yards. They converted on all three third-down situations they faced along the way.
A 32-yard scoring strike from Johnson to Freddie Brown capped the initial series. The second score — on a 3-yard touchdown run by Asiata off a direct snap — concluded a sustained drive that consisted of 12 plays and took 5:07 off the clock.
Utah fans celebrate with a sign directed at BYU fans during the Utes' game against the Colorado State Rams Saturday in Mountain West Conference NCAA football action at Rice-Eccles Stadium in Salt Lake City. The Utes won 49-16 and improved to 8-0 on the season.  (Tom Smart, Deseret News) Utah fans celebrate with a sign directed at BYU fans during the Utes' game against the Colorado State Rams Saturday in Mountain West Conference NCAA football action at Rice-Eccles Stadium in Salt Lake City. The Utes won 49-16 and improved to 8-0 on the season. (Tom Smart, Deseret News)
Between Utah scores, CSU got on the board with a 29-yard touchdown pass from Farris to Dion Morton. The Rams marched 80 yards on 10 plays to even things up at 7-7.


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