AMES, Iowa — Shaky Smithson and another strong second-quarter showing ignited the 10th-ranked Utah Utes to a lopsided 68-27 win at Iowa State on Saturday.
The successful combination, along with several other major contributions, allowed the Utes (5-0) to overcome an early deficit to win for the 16th consecutive time (dating back to 2007) when having eight or more days to prepare for an opponent.
"We did a lot of good things, obviously," Utah coach Kyle Whittingham said of the program's highest point total since 1983.
The Utes racked up 593 yards of total offense and 28 first downs while topping 50 points for the third consecutive game, doing so for the first time since 2004.
"We did a good job," said quarterback Jordan Wynn, who completed 23-of-31 passes for 325 yards and two touchdowns. "Special teams and defense both did a good job, though, of giving us great field position on a lot of those."
Things, however, started off a bit slow.
Utah had a bye last week and looked a little rusty early on. A fumble and an interception led to a pair of Iowa State touchdowns in the first quarter.
Between scores, the Utes countered with a 23-yard field goal by Joe Phillips and a 78-yard punt return by Smithson. The latter set up a 2-yard touchdown pass by Wynn to Eddie Wide.
The Cyclones, though, reclaimed a 14-10 lead by quarter's end — cashing in on a short field after Utah's second miscue.
Things changed shortly thereafter — in a big, big way.
The Utes erupted for 31 points in less than 101/2 minutes to take a 41-14 halftime lead. The outburst made an already impressive statistic even more remarkable. They've now outscored the opposition by a whopping 101-7 margin in the second quarter this season.
"I don't know why that is," Wynn said. "That's just kind of how it always happens. We got a huge momentum shift when Shaky took that punt."
While Utah's defense was holding Iowa State to just three yards rushing in the second quarter, the offense put on quite a show.
Smithson took center stage with prominent roles on two touchdowns. He got things started by throwing a 32-yard scoring strike to DeVonte Christopher on a reverse play.
Following short touchdowns runs by Matt Asiata and Wide, Smithson reached the end zone by hauling in a 61-yard pass from Wynn with 1:34 to play in the half.
Although time was short, the Utes found a way to put a few more points on the board before the break. Cornerback Brandon Burton returned an interception 57 yards before being tackled with one second remaining. Joe Phillips then added a 25-yard field goal to make it 41-14.
Unfortunately for Iowa State, which was 3-0 at home this year, there was still plenty of football left to play.
And things got even more bleak for the Cyclones, who wound up going 0-for-11 on third downs.
"Some days, you get up, and you get the unexpected. That was a heck of a football team," said Iowa State coach Paul Rhoads. "There was clearly a difference in team speed out there tonight. In all phases, special teams in particular. We were soundly beat in all three phases of the game."
Utah's lead eventually swelled to 68-20 in the fourth quarter. A 1-yard touchdown run by Sausan Shakerin, making his season debut after being sidelined with a concussion, and a PAT by Phillips capped off a solid all-around effort by the Utes.
Other second-half scores included two field goals by Phillips, a 100-yard kickoff return by Reggie Dunn and a 5-yard touchdown run by Wide.
Dunn became the first Ute to return a kickoff the length of the field since Erroll Tucker did it twice in 1985.
"Reggie Dunn is electrifying when he has the ball in his hands," Whittingham said. "So we had a lot of production there."
Contributions were plentiful and more than enough to overshadow a pair of second-half touchdowns by Iowa State, one in the third quarter and another in the fourth.
The Cyclones struggled in dropping to 3-3 on the season. They turned the ball over twice and managed 245 less yards than the Utes.
Credit Utah's defense. Linebacker Chad Manis, who led the Utes with nine tackles, said that they are determined to come out every week and make a statement.
The Cyclones took note.
"They were doing a lot of switching around. They brought a lot of guys and (were) playing a lot of man," said Iowa State quarterback Austen Armaud, who completed just 13-of-31 passes. "We played right into their hands. We were moving the ball at times, but they were moving and flying around a lot."
The victory was Utah's 21st over a Bowl Championship Series school, the most by any nonautomatic qualifier.
The Utes return to Mountain West Conference play Saturday at Wyoming.