SALT LAKE CITY — It's probably safe to say Utah's offense must have felt like it was facing a fierce bunch of Horne Frogs, because the Utes simply couldn't find any "D" on Saturday at Rice-Eccles Stadium.
Yes, in the biggest game of the season, Utah's defense was nowhere to be found, doing a disappearing act at the worst possible time.
And TCU put on an offensive show seldom seen by a Utah opponent in this or any other recent season, especially against a Ute defense which came into Saturday's game nationally ranked in several key defensive categories.
Before Saturday's stunning 47-7 shellacking by the Horned Frogs, Utah was ranked 10th in the nation in passing defense, 14th in rushing defense, sixth in total defense and sixth in scoring defense.
Those lofty national numbers will likely take a severe beating — and so will the Utes' national profile — after TCU not only piled up 47 points, but did so in part by racking up 381 yards passing and 177 yards rushing. You don't have to be a math major to know that adds up to 558 total yards against a Utah defense which had been allowing only 267.8 total yards and 14.1 points per game.
"They smoked us," admitted Utah defensive end Christian Cox. "It's disheartening. We got killed."
The main culprit who helped the Frogs light up their victory cigar in this unexpected demolition of Utah's defense was TCU's stellar senior quarterback, Andy Dalton, who threw for a career-high 355 yards and three touchdowns, including a 93-yarder to Josh Boyce for the Frogs' second touchdown.
Dalton, who threw for 236 yards and two TDs in the first half alone, completed 21-of-26 passes without an interception. He credited his team's impressive performance to great preparation.
"We came out and had a great week of practice," Dalton said. "We got ready for 'em, and it showed in our play today.
"We saw on film that we could take a couple shots, and we did it early on and we completed 'em and we made some big plays."
One of those shots was the long pass play to Boyce, who had scored TCU's first touchdown on a 26-yard pass from Dalton on the Frogs' first possession.
This time, he shook off a Utah defender near midfield and took it all the way from 93 yards away to make it 14-0.
"We got fortunate on the one coming off our goal line," said TCU coach Gary Patterson. "We caught 'em in man coverage one-on-one and Josh Boyce made a play. Sometimes you just get lucky."
If that's the case, then TCU got lucky a lot.
Late in the first quarter, TCU threw in a trick play which worked to perfection when their star wide receiver and kick return specialist, Jeremy Kerley, came in at quarterback for one play and promptly zipped a 26-yard TD pass to Bart Johnson. That made it 20-0 and the rout was on.
"It was a pretty good pass," Dalton said of Kerley's impromptu QB impression. "It was a good play for us."
"The offensive staff and the kids just did a great job of understanding what Utah was gonna give us, and we took what we could get," Patterson said.
"We knew coming in here that we couldn't come in here and just wait for the ball game to come to us. We were going to have to take it. That's what I said all week, and that's what we did."