SALT LAKE CITY (AP) -- Having just five days to prepare for TCU
also meant less time for Utah to dwell on what happened last week.
The Utes appeared fully recovered from getting routed at home
last weekend by beating TCU 20-7 Thursday, giving the Horned Frogs
their first losing streak in nearly two years.
"It was all about coming out fast," said Utah defensive back
Eric Weddle, who forced a key fumble in the fourth quarter that led
to a field goal. "The defense showed the capabilities we have."
Utah (4-2, 2-0 Mountain West) kept TCU (3-2, 0-2) off balance
most of the game and never trailed just five days after a 36-3 loss
to Boise State.
Brett Ratliff passed for 223 yards and two touchdowns, going
19-for-32 and atoning for his performance Saturday.
"Brett had a lot to say today in the locker room," said Brent Casteel, who caught both touchdown passes from Ratliff. "He came
to the receivers and said 'We've got a big day ahead of us.' That
gave us confidence."
Louie Sakoda added two field goals and pinned the Frogs inside
the 20 on his first five punts.
The Utes forced three fumbles in the fourth quarter, converting
one into a field goal and ending a huge scoring threat with another
after TCU got inside the Utah 20 with 7 minutes left in the game
and TCU within two touchdowns of taking the lead.
TCU finished with 310 yards, but 141 came in the fourth quarter
as the Frogs frantically tried to rally.
"We have a tough group of players and some great leadership,"
coach Kyle Whittingham said. "The team did a great job tonight.
They were challenged and responded well."
Marcus Jackson was 11-for-19 for 158 yards after relieving
starter Jeff Ballard in the third quarter. Ballard hurt his
throwing shoulder the week before in a 31-17 loss to Brigham Young,
which snapped the nation's longest winning streak at 13 games.
Now the Frogs have their first losing streak since 2004.
"Losing can be a habit, just like winning can be. You've got to
be able to turn it," TCU coach Gary Patterson said. "I'm not mad
at them, I'm disappointed because we had our chances today."
Ratliff was coming off a miserable game against Boise State,
going 5-for-21 for 30 yards with three interceptions against Boise
State. He was on target Thursday night and completed nine straight
in the first half.
"I liked the short week. We prepared quickly and just came out
and played," Ratliff said.
The Utes kept the Frogs off guard with several trick plays.
Defensive back Eric Weddle lined up at quarterback and had five
carries for 15 yards. He also stripped the ball from Lonta Hobbs to
set up Sakoda's 32-yard field goal that put Utah up 20-7 with 7:45
left to play.
It was the second of three straight turnovers. TCU's Jackson
fumbled and Utah recovered at the 11, then Ratliff threw an
interception to Nick Sanders on first down. TCU got the ball back
at the 20 and Jackson threw a completion to Hobbs, who was stripped
of the ball by Weddle at the 21.
"I hit him and just took it from him," Weddle said.
The Frogs quickly drove to the Utah 21 with about 7 minutes
left, but Utah's Kelly Talavou leveled Quentily Harmon and forced a
fumble, which Paul Soliai recovered for Utah at the 19.
"We've lost three games the last two years and in all of them
we lost the takeaway battle. I think it's got a direct
correlation," Patterson said.
In the second quarter, Ratliff threw a 32-yard pass to Brian
Hernandez to set up the Utes at the TCU 4. Ratliff found Casteel
for a 1-yard touchdown pass that put the Utes up 10-0 with 9:31
left in the second quarter.
After Hobbs got TCU within 10-7 on a 1-yard run, Ratliff
unloaded the longest pass of his career and got a break that turned
it into a touchdown. On first down from the TCU 49, Ratliff went
for the end zone. His pass was a little short and TCU's Steven
Coleman had time to get under it, but he tipped the ball right to
Casteel in the end zone and Utah took a 17-7 lead.