SALT LAKE CITY (AP) -- The BCS is all but busted.
Utah beat rival Brigham Young 52-21 Saturday, completing its
first unbeaten season since 1930 and putting the Utes one step
closer to the first appearance in the Bowl Championship Series for
a team from a mid-major conference.
Heisman Trophy hopeful Alex Smith had his worst performance of
the season with two interceptions, but had plenty of help as the
Utes completed the 11-0 run.
"It probably wasn't my best game, but when it ends like this, I
couldn't be happier," said Smith, who had only two interceptions
on the season before Saturday. "Winning was all that I wanted. The
stats don't really matter."
Receiver Steve Savoy ran for two touchdowns and caught a pass
for another score and Quinton Ganther ran for 122 yards on 11
carries to lead the Utes (No. 6 ESPN/USA Today, No. 5 AP), who got
past the rival Cougars (5-6, 4-3) for the third straight year.
A few fans tossed tortillas and some of the Utes (7-0 Mountain West) donned
sombreros in reference to the Fiesta Bowl, where they're most
likely headed. Fans spent the final minute of the game lining the
sideline and started pouring onto the field with about 15 seconds
left to play. It took a few minutes, but both goalposts eventually
came down as Utes fans reveled in the perfect season.
"Man, it felt so good. I've never seen anything like that
before," said defensive lineman Sione Pouha, who got on the PA
system and led the mob of people in a rather off-key version of the
Utah fight song before heading to the locker room.
Utah won't officially know if it's going to a BCS game until the
final standings come out Dec. 5. The Utes need to be in the top six
to guarantee a BCS spot and should hang on to the sixth position
they held last week unless something strange happens with the
If it wasn't a lock before, Michigan's loss to Ohio State
earlier Saturday made it closer to one for the Utes. The Wolverines
were one spot behind Utah in the BCS standings and nobody else was
"I truly believe we are one of the top six in the country,"
Utah coach Urban Meyer said.
Savoy ran 92 yards for a score in the third quarter that turned
the game for good in Utah's favor and Smith completed 16 of 24 for
184 yards and a touchdown.
John Beck completed 17 of 32 passes for 213 yards and two
touchdowns to lead BYU, which has had three consecutive losing
seasons for the first time since 1964.
"They represent the MWC very well and they have had a great
season," BYU coach Gary Crowton said.
Three of Crowton's four seasons at BYU have ended with losing
records. Crowton didn't want to talk about whether this was his
last game coaching the Cougars.
"As of now I'm still the football coach. Any other question
about the football game I'll be happy to answer," he said.
The last six games in the rivalry had been decided by a
touchdown or less, including Utah's 3-0 a year ago. This one turned
into a rout, but not until late in the game.
The Cougars answered the Utes first two touchdowns with their
own scores, never falling behind by more than seven until the third
quarter. But BYU couldn't recover from a lethal turnover in the
third quarter that led to Savoy's scamper down the sideline and
crushed the Cougars.
BYU's Spencer White had just intercepted a pass from Smith that
set the Cougars up at the Utah 45, down just 31-21. But when BYU
got creative on first down, Utah's Eric Weddle stepped in front of
receiver Austin Collie's pass and intercepted it at the 8.
On the next play, Smith pitched the ball to Savoy and the Ute
receiver shuffled his feet through the defense, then bolted down
the BYU sideline for a score that put Utah up 38-21.
Savoy caught a 20-yard pass from Smith in the fourth quarter to
seal it and defensive lineman Steve Fafita took a handoff 4 yards
for a touchdown with 1:03 remaining.
Bo Nagahi returned a fumble 12 yards for a touchdown and ran 23
yards on a fake punt to set up another score for the Utes, who were
3-for-4 on fourth-down conversions. Savoy ran in an option for the
first score of the game with 52 seconds left in the first quarter.
Marty Johnson added a 5-yard touchdown run for Utah, but after
Nathan Soelberg intercepted a pass from Smith and returned it to
the Utah 24-yard line, Curtis Brown scored on a 6-yard run to tie
it at 14.
Smith nearly threw another pick the next time Utah had the ball,
but Aaron Francisco dropped it. That was costly for BYU after
Nagahi ran 23 yards on a fake punt to set up Smith's 2-yard
touchdown run on a broken play to give Utah a 21-14 halftime lead.
"They're a great team and I support them going on and
representing all of us with the BCS," said Brown, who ran for 84
yards on 18 carries. "We hurt ourselves. They didn't stop us."