Well that was surely the most dominant performance I've ever seen from the Utes. I don't think anyone really expected Utah to blowup like they did against the Iowa St. Cyclones. Oh sure, we thought the team was good and there was a chance for a sizable win (I predicted 27-10, which I thought was extremely optimistic), but 68-27? That's a basketball score. Hell, that's more points than the Utah basketball team might average all season.
And what did the Utes get for it? A drop in the rankings.
Ah, the wonders of college football! Oh well, I'm sure they'll use that as fodder for their game against the Wyoming Cowboys Saturday.
The grades after the jump...
Offense: A - When Utah turned it over twice early in the first quarter, I expected a battle. Both turnovers were inexcusable and set up the Cyclones' two first half scores.
Then something clicked and the offense just rolled. Jordan Wynn, who was nursing a bit of a shoulder injury, dominated. Utah's running game blew through the Iowa State line. Shaky Smithson not only had a touchdown catch, but threw for a touchdown. Utah finished with almost 600 yards of total offense and scored 31 points in the second quarter. Some teams, like the Utes' next opponent, are lucky to score that many points in three games!
It was like NCAA Football on easy mode out there. I don't ever recall an offense imposing its will like the Utes did in the second and third quarters. The kicker? It could have been way worse. Utah easily could've dropped 80 or more points on Iowa State. They weren't going to stop the Utes. It took Utah subbing in their second and third string players, while going away from the pass-oriented offense, to finally slow them down.
Even then, they still managed ten points in the fourth and it very well could have been 14. This is a game where you can easily say the Utes should have scored 70. I never thought I'd be saying that after a road contest against a BCS team.
Defense: A - Don't let the box score tell the story. Yes, Utah gave up 27 points. Yes, Iowa State finished with a respectable amount of yards on offense. No, the defense was not bad. Not even close. 14 of those Cyclone points came off Utah turnovers. The rest happened later in the game with Utah already comfortably ahead and playing about as soft as one could play in that position.
That is not indicative of the defense.
Even with the 27 points and 350 yards given up, Iowa State entered the game with an offensive explosion of their own that occurred a week early against Texas Tech. That was supposed to be their offensive turning point and it really never materialized in this game. You take away the Utes' two turnovers, and this game is even more a blowout than what we eventually got.
To show you how impressive Utah's defense was, Iowa State finished 0-11 on third downs. That's damn good.
Special Teams: A - The special teams have certainly been special since the UNLV game. Smithson returned a punt 78 yards and nearly had a touchdown. Reggie Dunn returned a kickoff for 100 yards (105) and scored a touchdown. The Utes connected on all of their field goals and PATs. Most importantly, they didn't give up any big returns and didn't fumble on any returns.
I have been very critical of Jay Hill and the special teams over the years, but what we have seen the last three games, not including Pitt and UNLV, has certainly changed my mind. It has been the most impressive stretch since the Urban Meyer days and I just hope it continues because if it does, I don't see a real weakness with this team.
Overall, it was a great performance. I said two weeks ago not to be stingy and vote the San Jose State game an A. If that was an A, this is A2.
Great win for the team! Now let's hope they can do the same Saturday against the Cowboys. It's obvious, more than ever, they need style points if they're going to impress the voters.
So how about dropping 70?