SALT LAKE CITY — Utah's "blackout" turned out to be a real knockout — for TCU. The battle between two of the top five teams in the Bowl Championship Series standings was a beat-down that never lived up to its billing and pregame hype.
The Horned Frogs hopped all over the Utes, 47-7, in a clash of unbeatens that carried hefty BCS and Mountain West Conference title implications.
"My bishop is probably not going to be happy but we got our (butts) kicked," Utah defensive end Christian Cox said before expressing his respect for TCU. "Every phase of the game they smoked us. It's disheartening. It's frustrating. We got killed."
Utah quarterback Jordan Wynn, who completed just 16-of-35 passes for 148 yards, turned the ball over three times — twice on interceptions and once on a fumble.
"They just beat us in all aspects," Wynn said. "They're a good team and they showed it today."
Utah coach Kyle Whittingham agreed.
"We were thoroughly out played in every phase of the game. It wasn't even close," he said. "It was one of those games where the score was not indicative of how lopsided it was."
The Frogs, he added, exposed a lot of the Utes' deficiencies.
"Credit to them. That's a great football team," Whittingham said. "They outcoached us. They outplayed us. Gary Patterson's got something special going there and we wish them well the rest of the way."
TCU, winners of 23 consecutive non-bowl games, wasted little time dashing Utah's hopes of a third BCS trip in seven years.
"Everybody understands what kind of team Utah has and for us to do it the way we did it today says a lot about what we've done as a program and what we do," Patterson said. "We wanted to be peaking at the end of the year and I think we have an opportunity to do that."
Led by a defense that didn't allow the Utes past the 50-yard line until the fourth quarter and an offense quarterbacked by Andy Dalton, the Frogs jumped out to a 23-0 lead midway through the second quarter.
By the time Ross Evans capped the early outburst with a 24-yard field goal, TCU had racked up exactly 300 yards of total offense. Utah had just 51.
Dalton, at the time, had completed 12 of his first 13 passes for 236 yards. He wound up going 21-of-26 for 355 yards and three touchdowns.
The Frogs scored on the game's opening possession. They concluded a nine-play drive with a 26-yard touchdown pass from Dalton to Josh Boyce on third-and-6.
TCU's 7-0 lead held firm until just over two minutes remained in the first quarter. After a 67-yard punt by Sean Sellwood pinned the Frogs on their own 6, Dalton and Boyce quickly struck again. They teamed up for a 93-yard scoring strike on the ensuing play and TCU went on to double its lead.
Shortly thereafter, things grew even worse for Utah.
Wynn fumbled the ball when he was sacked by TCU's Wayne Evans and defensive tackle D.J. Yendrey recovered it for the Frogs on the Utes' 26-yard line.
Wide receiver Jeremy Kerley took the snap on the ensuing play and completed a touchdown toss to Bart Johnson with 25 seconds remaining in the quarter. The extra-point kick that followed was no good.
Evans redeemed himself with the second-quarter field goal to make it 23-0. It proved to be the only other points scored before the opening half was complete.
Besides the score, TCU held significant statistical advantages over the first two quarters. The Horned Frogs held a commanding 328-72 lead in total offense, a 12-5 edge in first downs and almost nine minutes more possession time.
The second half opened on a better note. Shaky Smithson's 45-yard kickoff return gave the second-largest crowd in Rice-Eccles Stadium history (46,522) something to cheer about.
Three plays later, though, they were replaced by jeers. Wynn was intercepted by TCU's Tanner Brock. The linebacker returned it 57 yards to the Utah 4. Ed Wesley then ran it across the goal line to increase the Horned Frogs' lead just 40 seconds into the third quarter.
Trailing 30-0, the Utes weren't finished giving the ball away. After catching a pass from Wynn on first down, wide receiver DeVonte Christopher fumbled after getting hit by TCU's Jason Teague. It was recovered by teammate Alex Ibiloye on the Utah 36.
Trouble was averted, however, 45 seconds later when Utah safety Brian Blechen forced TCU's Matthew Tucker to fumble. Defensive tackle Sealver Siliga made the recovery on the 29-yard line.
It failed to spark any sort of momentum shift as Utah's 21-game home winning streak came to a lopsided conclusion.
TCU's lead grew in the second half. The Frogs added an 11-yard touchdown pass from Dalton to Jimmy Young in the third quarter and a 23-yard field goal by Evans early in the fourth.
Utah responded to the latter, moving into TCU territory for the first and only time on a 10-yard run by Matt Asiata with 12:26 remaining. Asiata later scored on a 19-yard touchdown pass from Wynn as Utah avoided being shutout at home for the first time since 1967.
In keeping with the tone of the game, though, the Utes' next possession ended with Wynn being intercepted by TCU cornerback Greg McCoy.
And there were more difficulties ahead.
With 4:58 remaining, TCU tailback Waymon James scooped up a fumble by backup quarterback Casey Pachall and ran 25 yards for a touchdown.
Adding insult to injury, Utah blocked the PAT but it still went through the uprights.
It was just that kind of day for the Utes, who suffered their worst loss in Salt Lake City since a 50-10 setback to Colorado State in 1989. It was also Utah's most lopsided setback overall since a 51-10 loss at Rice in 1996.
"All we can do is just get up and forget about his game," said center Zane Taylor. "It's ancient history. We can't let it linger with us the rest of this season."
The Utes (8-1) visit Notre Dame (4-5) on Saturday.
e-mail: [email protected]