7:00 PM ET, November 20, 2004
Rice-Eccles Stadium, SALT LAKE CITY, UT
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 computers.
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 close.
"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."
Team Stat Comparison
|3rd Down Conversions||4-11||7-14|
|4th Down Conversions||0-1||3-4|
|TD||0:52||STEVE SAVOY 2 YD RUN (DAVID CARROLL KICK)|
Drive info: 13 plays, 62 yards.
|TD||12:13||TODD WATKINS 5 YD PASS FROM JOHN BECK (MATT PAYNE KICK)|
Drive info: 9 plays, 80 yards.
|TD||9:28||MARTY JOHNSON 5 YD RUN (DAVID CARROLL KICK)|
Drive info: 5 plays, 55 yards.
|TD||5:40||CURTIS BROWN 6 YD RUN (MATT PAYNE KICK)|
Drive info: 2 plays, 24 yards.
|TD||1:19||ALEX SMITH 2 YD RUN (DAVID CARROLL KICK)|
Drive info: 12 plays, 79 yards.
|FG||11:43||DAVID CARROLL 30 YD FG|
Drive info: 6 plays, 64 yards.
|TD||10:43||BO NAGAHI 12 YD DEFENSIVE FUMBLE RETURN (DAVID CARROLL KICK)||14||31|
|TD||8:38||AUSTIN COLLIE 16 YD PASS FROM JOHN BECK (MATT PAYNE KICK)|
Drive info: 7 plays, 65 yards.
|TD||5:59||STEVE SAVOY 92 YD RUN (DAVID CARROLL KICK)|
Drive info: 1 plays, 92 yards.
|TD||10:34||STEVE SAVOY 20 YD PASS FROM ALEX SMITH (DAVID CARROLL KICK)|
Drive info: 7 plays, 72 yards.
|TD||1:03||STEVE FIFITA 4 YD RUN (DAVID CARROLL KICK)|
Drive info: 15 plays, 80 yards.