Utah’s Defense Shuts Down Stanford’s Offense In Stunning Upset

By Joseph Lisi
Russell Isabella-USA TODAY Sports

On paper, it looked as though the Stanford Cardinal would walk into Utah on Saturday afternoon and come out on the winning end of their game with the Utah Utes.

Entering the game with Utah, Stanford’s quarterback Kevin Hogan had never lost in his college career as a starter (10-0) and the Cardinal boasted a rushing offense that was averaging 210 rushing yards per game.

Sitting at No. 5 in the country, the Cardinal relied on a ball-control attack that would wear down opposing defenses and force teams to play their physical style of play.

On Saturday in Salt Lake City, the Utes proved that they were up the task to give Stanford all they could handle. Led by a defense that held the Cardinal to 143 rushing yards and 13 total first downs, Utah pulled off the major upset in front of a home crowd, 27-21.

The Utes defensive line consistently stuffed the running lanes and forced Stanford into beating them with the vertical passing game. The Utes were able to disguise defensive looks and confuse Hogan into throwing into double coverage. Utah held Stanford to 6-of-13 on third-down conversions and was able to contain the Stanford wide receivers from beating them deep.

The Utes won the turnover battle in forcing two fumbles on the day. Credit coach Kyle Whittingham and the defensive coaching staff in having the Utes mentally prepared for this game. They were emotionally ready to play and were disciplined committing only four penalties in the game.

Utah moved to 4-2 on the season and will travel to Arizona next Saturday. Stanford (5-1) will have to regroup with No. 11 UCLA coming to Palo Alto.

Joseph Lisi is a MAC writer for Rantsports.com, follow him on Twitter @GoForthe2, “Like” him on Facebook or add him to your network on Google.

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