8:05 PM ET, September 16, 2006
Romney Stadium, LOGAN, UT
LOGAN, Utah (AP) -- Utah quarterback Brett Ratliff only had to play three quarters against Utah State on Saturday night.
The way the Utes' defense played, he just about could have taken the whole night off.
The Utes forced six turnovers, returning two for touchdowns, and held Utah State to 98 yards of offense in a 48-0 win -- the most one-sided game in the 106 meetings between the state rivals.
"The floodgates opened tonight with the takeaways," Utah coach Kyle Whittingham said.
Did they ever. The Utes (2-1) led 7-0 barely a minute into the game on Eric Shyne's 21-yard interception return and got a 45-yard return for a touchdown when Stevenson Sylvester picked one off and rumbled through several Aggies for another touchdown in the third quarter.
It made for a really easy night for Ratliff, who was 18-for-26 for 182 yards and three touchdowns. He was never sacked and didn't throw an interception.
"That's huge," Ratliff said of the defense. "It really set up the offense and just gave momentum to us."
Ratliff rested the fourth quarter as backup Tommy Grady came on and threw his first touchdown pass as a Ute in the biggest blowout of the series history. Utah outdid the 1944 Utes, who shut out the Aggies 47-0 in Logan, for the biggest blowout in the series and got the first shutout since Utah won 19-0 in 1990.
Utah State still hasn't scored an offensive touchdown this season and has been outscored 106-7 so far.
"Obviously when you turn the football over six times like we did tonight, you aren't going to win any football games," Utah State coach Brent Guy said. We wanted to start fast. We gave them a quick score and then we couldn't get anything offensively. We've got to start over again."
Utah had only caused one turnover before Saturday.
Whittingham was almost apologetic after the game for letting Grady throw the ball with a 41-0 lead. But he wanted Grady to get some work in and forget the season opener, when he threw an interception that UCLA returned for a touchdown.
So after Grady threw a 35-yard touchdown pass to Fano Tagovailoa with 12:36 left to play, Whittingham kept the ball on the ground.
"I never want to be accused of running it up," Whittingham said. "There was 13-something left in the fourth and I wanted to let him get a couple throws just to get his confidence back. He did that and did a nice job and then once that last touchdown was put up, then he did a nice job of milking the clock."
Utah finished with four sacks and hurried Utah State's Leon Jackson all night. Jackson completed 4 of 15 passes for 39 yards and Marcus Cross had 13 carries for 27 yards, but they botched Utah State's best scoring chance with a bad option pitch on first-and-goal from the 7-yard line.
It was that kind of game for the Aggies.
"We gave them points they didn't have to work for," Jackson said.
On Utah State's second play of the game, Shyne stepped in front of a sideline pass by Jackson and ran 21 yards for an easy touchdown just 1:06 into the game.
"I was thinking to myself ... 'Is he really going to throw this ball?' And he threw it right two me," Shyne said. "It set the tone a lot."
The Utes forced a quick punt on the next possession and added a 38-yard field goal by Louie Sakoda with 8:46 left.
The Aggies could have kept the halftime margin to 17, but tried an option on third-and-5 from the 25 and Jackson's pitch was behind Cross. Eric Weddle recovered the ball for Utah at the 24 and on second down Ratliff threw it to Richards, who caught it and got both feet down before getting knocked out of bounds. The play withstood a review and Utah led 24-0 at halftime.
Richards caught two touchdown passes and Marquis Wilson also caught a scoring pass from Ratliff, who threaded the 14-yard pass through two defenders to get it to Wilson and put Utah ahead 31-0.
"I saw exactly where they were," Ratliff said. "I just put it right where only he could catch it. They weren't really looking at the ball. They were looking more at him."
Team Stat Comparison
|3rd Down Conversions||7-14||3-13|
|4th Down Conversions||0-1||0-0|
|TD||14:25||Utah interception return for a touchdown. Ben Vroman extra point GOOD.||7||0|
|FG||8:46||Utah 38 yard field goal GOOD.||10||0|
|TD||4:53||Utah pass complete for a touchdown. Louie Sakoda extra point GOOD.||17||0|