Efficient Smith leads dominant win

TEMPE, Ariz. (AP) -- Utah looked like a powerhouse that deserved

a better final test to its BCS-busting season.

Behind the cool efficiency of Alex Smith, the Utes (No. 6 ESPN/USA Today; No. 5 AP) used their baffling spread offense and an underrated defense to

dominate Pittsburgh (No. 20 ESPN/USA Today; No. 19 AP) 35-7 in the Fiesta Bowl on Saturday


Utah was a 16-point favorite, the biggest margin of any of the

bowls, and it was a safe bet.

Smith completed 29 of 37 passes, four of them for touchdowns,

for 328 yards and the Utes sacked Pitt's Tyler Palko nine times, a

Fiesta Bowl record.

Smith, a Heisman Trophy finalist who is considering going to the

NFL after this, his junior, season, also rushed 15 times for 68


Paris Warren caught 15 passes, breaking the Fiesta record of 11

set by Kellen Winslow of Miami in the 2003 national championship

loss to Ohio State.

Warren, who transferred from Oregon in 2002, had 198 yards

receiving, third-most in Fiesta Bowl history. Smith's 78 percent

completion rate was also a Fiesta Bowl mark.

"It doesn't get any better than this," Warren told the

boisterous Utah supporters at the postgame awards ceremony.

Smith and Warren shared the offensive MVP award, and Utah nose

guard Steve Fifita was named the defensive MVP.

Meyer punctuated two memorable years in Salt Lake City with the

Utes' first unbeaten, untied season since 1930. He leaves for

Florida after making Utah the first team from outside the six BCS

conferences to force its way into a Bowl Championship Series game.

"This is the best group of young men I've ever been around,"

Meyer said. "It's going to be hard to say goodbye, but we're

saying goodbye 12-0."

Tens of thousands of Utah fans who made up at least

three-fourths of the sellout crowd of 73,519 were not disappointed.

Utah scored touchdowns on five of its first seven possessions,

including all three in the third quarter.

Out of a dizzying array of formations, the Mountain West

Conference champs kept the Panthers off balance all night with

everything from option plays to a handful of shovel passes. The

Utes set up one touchdown with a reverse and scored another on the

old "hook-and-ladder" play.

On that play, Smith threw to Steve Savoy, who flipped the ball

to Warren. Warren dashed 18 yards for the score, capping a 10-play,

94-yard drive, to put the Utes up 35-7 with 25 seconds left in the

third quarter.

Pitt (8-4) was overmatched in its final game under coach Walt

Harris, who is leaving for Stanford after eight seasons with the

Panthers. Pittsburgh was the unwanted team among the eight BCS

squads. The Panthers automatically qualified for one of the four

elite games as Big East champions, even though they were only 21st

in the BCS rankings.

"They are a very good, very explosive team, and it was a tough

game for us," Harris said. "We did not match up physically as

well as we needed to in order to stay in it, especially


Dave Wannstedt, who resigned this season as coach of the Miami

Dolphins, has been hired to replace Harris.

As the BCS buster with a huge following, Utah was welcomed by

the Fiesta Bowl organizers, but they had no choice but to invite

Pitt as the opponent.

In the first half, the Panthers accomplished their goal of

controlling the ball and keeping Utah's offense off the field as

much as possible. Pitt had a seven-minute advantage in time of

possession, but the Utes still led 14-0, even though they had the

ball only four times, the last with just 49 seconds to go in the


The Panthers were in Utah territory three times in the first

half, but four sacks -- and a blocked field goal try -- kept them