Alex Smith threw for one touchdown and ran for another to lead the Utes (file photo).
Sept. 18, 2004
By MARK THIESSEN
Associated Press Writer
LOGAN, Utah (AP) - No. 15 Utah easily dispatched its rival and convinced at least one coach it belongs among the nation's elite.
"I think Utah is every bit as good as their ranking," said Utah State coach Mick Dennehy after the 15th-ranked Utes routed his Aggies 48-6 Saturday night.
"We saw a team that has a chance to go a long way and do some special things," said Dennehy, whose team this season has a win over Idaho and a loss to Alabama.
Utah (3-0) racked up 441 total yards of offense in the nonconference win.
"We executed so well and so it may have looked easy, but all this doesn't matter if we lose the next game" said quarterback Alex Smith, who threw for one touchdown and ran for another.
Smith was 9-for-12 for 163 yards in limited duty for the Utes (3-0) before he and most starters were spelled in the second half.
"It was fun while we were playing," said Paris Warren, who caught one TD pass and ran for another. "But us starters didn't a chance to play after halftime."
The Utes had 441 total yards, 237 rushing and 204 passing. The defense was equally dominate, holding Utah State to 48 rushing yards on 35 attempts, and 295 total yards.
"When you make big mistakes a good defense will make big plays," said Utah State running back Peter Shields, who gains 20 yards on eight carries.
Utah coach Urban Meyer said the game went as scripted.
"Whenever you play defense like we did, it pins them down deep in their territory and it demoralizes them," he said.
It wasn't just the defense that took the steam out of the Aggies. Utah scored on five of its six first-half possessions in building a 41-0 lead at the break.
"For the third game in a row, we came out smoking," Meyer said. "That shows our team is ready and excited to play."
Utah's offense set the tone early, running and passing at will on its first possession. Warren's 4-yard run capped an eight-play, 59-yard drive.
On the Aggies (1-2) ensuing series, Utah's Ryan Smith recovered a fumble by Chris Forbes at the 11, and Alex Smith ran the ball in from 7 two plays later for a 21-0 lead.
Utah State threatened early in the second quarter, driving to the Utah 1. An offsides penalty on fourth-and-goal moved the ball back to the 6, and the Aggies opted to go for the touchdown.
But Utes' linebacker Corey Dodds intercepted Utah State quarterback Travis Cox's pass at the 1-yard line and returned it 26 yards. Utah scored six plays later on a 2-yard TD run by Quinton Ganther.
It shouldn't have taken that long. On the first play after the interception, Smith threw a 36-yard pass to a wide-open Warren who stumbled and fell after catching the ball.
Even the Utes' defense scored, when 6-3, 290-pound defensive lineman Jonathan Fanene returned an interception 76 yards for a TD.
"I looked up and there was the ball," he said. "So, I just grabbed it and said, 'I can take it to the house."'
Utah's other second quarter TD came on a 10-yard pass from Smith to Warren. Backup Utes quarterback Brian Johnson threw a 6-yard TD pass to John Madsen in the third.
Utah State's only score came off an 8-yard pass from Cox to Tarrell Richards in the third quarter. It was Richards' first catch at Utah State.
Cox finished the night 17-for-28 for 163 yards, with a TD and two interceptions.
Utah has now won seven straight against Utah State, which was looking for only its second win against a ranked team. The first was a 20-19 win over No. 25 Fresno State on Nov. 2, 1991.
Utah now leads the Aggies 72-28-4 in a series that started in 1892. The two teams have played every year but four since 1900.