SALT LAKE CITY -- No. 5 Utah wasn't perfect, but it ultimately executed its winning formula: The defense dug in behind the Rice-Eccles Stadium crowd to force six California turnovers and a game-saving stop, while Devontae Booker pounded the rest of the life out of the No. 23 Golden Bears. The senior running back flashed his entire versatile arsenal en route to a 222-yard rushing performance, and Utah remained undefeated with its 30-24 win.
Prized Cal quarterback Jared Goff threw a career-high five interceptions. A critical one early was the Bears' own fault -- the ball clanged off receiver Kenny Lawler's hands -- but Utah created plenty of its own luck later. Gionni Paul forced a fumble and dove for a spectacular interception, while cornerback Dominique Hatfield picked off two passes of his own. Boobie Hobbs sealed the Utes' win when he knocked away Goff's fourth-down pass with less than 30 seconds remaining.
What this win means for Utah: At 5-0, the Utes are now the only remaining undefeated team in the Pac-12. There are still plenty of land mines ahead on the schedule -- Arizona State and USC are the next opponents -- but Utah is gaining confidence with each successive victory, especially one in which they managed to create a living nightmare for such a good quarterback.
What this loss means for Cal: Most outsiders were reserving judgment on the previously undefeated Bears for after this game. Although Cal lost, it did acquit itself well. Bizarrely well, in fact: The Bears came within 21 yards of winning the game, despite turning the ball over six times on the road. They outgained Utah 467-435. There should now be every reason to believe Cal can compete for the Pac-12 North title this season, especially considering Oregon lost again. But remember the road remains difficult for the Bears: They play UCLA, USC and Oregon in their next three games.
Player of the game: Booker. We've been waiting for him to truly explode, and a 34-carry, 222-yard (6.5 per rush), two-touchdown performance certainly qualifies. He also caught four passes for 45 yards. Booker's initial 40-yard touchdown rush was especially impressive: He cut at the line, burst through a narrow hole, broke a tackle, successfully jetted to the outside and tightroped along the sideline to score. Moves galore, indeed. That was Booker in a nutshell -- he's arguably the most versatile running back in the country.
Stat of the game: Nine turnovers. Six for Cal, three for Utah. Yes, the Bears and the Utes entered this game as the two top Pac-12 defenses when it came to forcing takeaways, but no one expected the ball to change hands as often as it did Saturday night. Offensive sloppiness and spectacular defensive play combined for a strange, turnover-laden night.