No. 22 Utes' balance, Asiata's running too much for Utah State
LOGAN, Utah -- Utah put together a performance reminiscent of its unbeaten 2004 season.
Matt Asiata scored three touchdowns rushing and Brian Johnson threw for two more scores and No. 22 Utah defeated Utah State 58-10 on Saturday night.
After a lackluster second half in their win at Michigan and a sputtering first half last week against UNLV, the Utes were looking to go wire-to-wire start to finish.
"We really wanted to play a complete game. We played pretty well on offense and our defense did an awesome job but we still haven t played near our potential, "Johnson said.
The Utes (3-0) overcame mistakes early in each half to dominate their neighbors to the north and claim their 11th consecutive victory in the series. Utah's 58 points was the most they have scored since twice racking up 63 points in their undefeated '04 BCS-busting campaign, with coach Urban Meyer and quarterback Alex Smith leading the way.
Johnson completed 22 of 31 passes for 204 yards before sitting out most of the fourth quarter as the Utes combined an effective rushing attack with a short passing game to wear down the overmatched Aggies (0-3).
There was one thing for Utah coach Kyle Whittingham to complain about: three fumbles -- two lost -- on punt returns.
"There's no excuse for all those troubles in the punt game. We'll be looking at all possible returners going forward. I guess it's hard to complain after scored 58 points but that just irks a coach," Whittingham said.
The Utes outgained Utah State 445-116 and nearly doubled their opponents in time of possession. While three rushers gained more than 50 yards for Utah, led by Darrell Mack s 75 yards, the Aggies didn't surpass 100 yards of total offense until the final three minutes.
After the game, demoralized Aggies left their home field quickly while the Utes lingered to pay tribute to their fans, who made the 67-mile drive north and red shirts comprised nearly half the crowd of 19,061.
Utah State's Sean Setzer threw a touchdown pass on a fade route to Otis Nelson, four plays after Geno Odong recovered a muffed punt return by John Peel on Utah's 24.
On Utah's first offensive possession, Asiata took a direct snap on fourth down and twisted his way 4 yards into the end zone to knot the game 7-7.
Louie Sakoda kicked a 48-yard field goal on the Utes' next drive. On the ensuing kickoff, Trevor Moss stripped returner Curtis Marsh. Utah's Elijah Wesson picked up the fumble and ran 20 yards for a touchdown and the rout was on.
Because of a sack and forced fumble by Paul Kruger, one of his four quarterback drops in the game, Sakoda hit two more field goals in a 1:30 span early in the second quarter.
"We made them hold onto the ball longer than they should have and that made it easier for us to get to the QB. I just speed-rushed around their blockers and tried to hit him as hard as I could," said Kruger, who tied a school sack record last set by John Frank in 1999.
Sakoda, who is also Utah s punter, faked a punt and threw a 9-yard pass to R.J. Stanford to keep a drive alive and set up a Johnson-to-Freddie Brown 10-yard touchdown reception.
On the first play from scrimmage in the second half, Utah State's Paul Igboeli intercepted Johnson's underthrown out route, which led to Peter Caldwell's 20-yard field goal. But the Aggies could never sustain any drives and had just eight first down compared to the Utes' 29.
"We did not have any chance to win; they physically dominated us. Other than fumbling the punts, they didn't give us many chances," Utah State coach Brent Guy said.
Johnson threw an 8-yard touchdown pass to Colt Sampson and Asiata scored twice more on direct snaps in an empty backfield in the second half.
Utah State has lost 21 straight against ranked opponents and has only won once in 47 games against Top 25 foes.
"We just didn't compete," Nelson said.
2022 Pac-12 Conference Standings
2022 Mountain West Conference Standings
|San Diego State||5-3||7-6|
|San José State||5-3||7-5|