SALT LAKE CITY -- The Bryce Love highlight tour continued in Salt Lake City on Saturday with No. 20 Utah the latest to leave frustrated by the show.
Love ran for 152 yards and a touchdown, and Stanford handed the Utes their first loss of the season, 23-20.
Utah bottled up the nation's leading rusher for most of the night, but the Cardinal (4-2, 3-1 Pac-12) faithfully continued to give their star the ball. On his 18th touch, the 5-foot-10, 196-pound speedster made two defenders miss in the hole and ran away for a 68-yarder that put the Cardinal up 23-13 with 12:02 remaining.
"You look at their personnel and it's like an NFL defense," Stanford coach David Shaw said. "Big guys all over the place. They can all hit. They can all tackle.
"We knew with enough opportunities Bryce Love was going to break one or two of them out and he did that."
Utah (4-1, 1-1) stormed down the field on the ensuing possession with Troy Williams hitting Darren Carrington for big gains, but an interception essentially ended the game.
The Utes had moved to the Stanford 30 and Williams was about to be sacked when he threw the ball up downfield. Quenton Meeks picked off the fluttering pass and allowed Stanford to work more time off the clock.
Williams threw another interception to Justin Reid with 5:52 remaining.
"We're really big on grinding it out for however long it takes and we just need one opportunity to make something happen," Love said. " You're going to have days where things aren't going to open up. You're not going to have 300 yards rushing or 260 or stuff like that. Sometimes, especially against a good team like Utah, you're going to have to get nitty and gritty and really fight."
Keller Chryst threw for 106 yards and ran for a touchdown for Stanford. The senior got the start after missing last week with an undisclosed injury. He began the season as the starter, but was hurt two weeks ago against UCLA, and sophomore K.J. Costello helped lead the team to its first two Pac-12 wins. Both played Saturday and Costello threw for 82 yards.
Williams completed 20 of 39 passes for 238 yards, one touchdown and two interceptions. Utah running back Zack Moss had 79 rushing yards and a touchdown on 15 carries, and Carrington had 99 yards and a touchdown on seven receptions. Sunia Tauteoli had 11 tackles and 3 1/2 for losses for Utah.
Stanford led 13-10 at halftime after Jet Toner made a 46-yard field goal with 6 seconds remaining in the half. The Cardinal didn't have a turnover and put the game away with the two interceptions.
"You might win 2/3 games a year scoring 20 points," Utah coach Kyle Whittingham said. "Zero takeaways, you can't win games when you're minus-2 in turnover margin. That's very unlike us.
"The running back is tremendous. We held him well below what he usually gets, but not enough."
Stanford: The Cardinal are on a three-game roll after a dreadful two-loss September. Love eventually got going, but the quarterbacks made just enough plays to keep the team in position to win. Stanford remains one loss behind No. 6 Washington and No. 11 Washington State in the Pac-12 North.
Utah: The Utes lost the edge they had in the Pac-12 South. Utah, No. 14 USC, Arizona, UCLA and Arizona State all only have one conference loss. The offense is nowhere near as electric without Tyler Huntley under center.
"I just got to play better, bottom line," Williams said. "That's just what it is.
"It's hard. I know everybody probably hates me right now. But that's a part of the game. ... I'm probably not the guy everybody wants to see right now. ... You know, `They love you one minute, they hate you the next."
The Utes are likely to remain in the Top 25 with their first loss of the season, but could fall back a few spots from No. 20.
Utah quarterback Tyler Huntley was on the field in street clothes as Williams got the start. The sophomore started the first four games, but was hurt in the second quarter against Arizona two weeks ago. Utah does not typically discus injuries that are not season-ending.
Utah kicker Matt Gay entered the game 14 for 14, but missed his first attempt of the day from 50 yards out in the first quarter. Toner came in 9 for 9, but missed a 27-yarder in the second quarter.
Utah's usual starting defensive ends Bradlee Anae and Kylie Fitts were both fully dressed before the game and went through warmups, but neither started. Leki Fotu and John Penisini started in their place. Anae and Fitts were both injured against Arizona and their status was unknown throughout the week. Anae played in the second half, Fitts did not at all.
Stanford: The Cardinal host Oregon on Saturday in a Pac-12 North showdown.
Utah: The Utes travel to face No. 14 Southern California on Saturday with first place in the Pac-12 South on the line.
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