FORT COLLINS, Colo. Utah linebacker Stevenson Sylvester said defensive coordinator Gary Andersen is constantly reminding the Utes that "third down is the only down."
The message got through in Saturday's 27-3 win at Colorado State. Utah's defense kept the Rams in check, allowing them to convert on just 2-of-13 third-down situations.
"We need to make the plays on third down," Sylvester said.
It's a philosophy the program adheres to.
Head coach Kyle Whittingham explained that it applies to both sides of the ball. Coming up big on third down is big for offensive drives and defensive stops.
"It's stressed to our players," said Whittingham, who added that Utah's defense has been "stingy on third downs all year long."
BYE WEEK: The Utes are approaching their first and only bye week of the season. They'll practice Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday before getting next weekend off.
IT TOOK TIME: Utah didn't get a single penalty in the first half and wound up with just three by game's end. The Utes didn't have to punt until the third quarter, either.
And that's not all.
The 100-yard rushing performances by Darrell Mack (151) and Ray Stowers (123) were Utah's first by two runners since Brett Ratliff and Quinton Ganther each topped the mark in the 2005 win over BYU.
ROCK-TOBER: The Colorado Rockies' first World Series appearance was evident all around Fort Collins. Various stores and vendors were selling merchandise. Game 3 in Denver may have had plenty to do with the small crowd at Hughes Stadium.
HOMEWARD BOUND: The Utes will play the rest of their games this season inside the state of Utah home contests against Wyoming (Nov. 10) and New Mexico (Nov. 17) and a road date at BYU (Nov. 24).
The journey to Fort Collins (478 miles from Salt Lake City) capped an extensive travel stretch for the Utes. In the past month, they've also played games at Louisville (1,583 miles) and Fort Worth (1,243 miles).
NEIGHBORS? Though Utah and Colorado State reside in neighboring states, neither program features a player from across the border. None of the Utes are from Colorado and the Rams' roster is void of any players from Utah.
There is a link, however.
Utah cornerbacks coach Aaron Alford is a CSU alum. He lettered for the Rams in 1993 and is a former student coach.EXTRA POINTS: Utah now leads the all-time series with CSU 52-22-2, including a 22-14 advantage in Fort Collins ... The attendance was 16,718 braving overcast skies and a kickoff temperature of 45 degrees ... Scouts from the NFL's Broncos, Colts and Packers were on hand ... The Utes have now intercepted a pass in three consecutive outings ... Defensive end Martail Burnett had three tackles-for-loss and 1.5 sacks. He ranks in the career top 10 in both categories at Utah.