It wasn't one of the prettiest wins ever, but Utah got the job done Thursday night in Fort Worth. Utah's 27-20 victory over the Frogs marks their longest winning streak since a school record 18, attained from 2003 to 2005. Oddly enough, that streak ended against TCU, in Fort Worth.
But Utah's win was much more than just another notch in their winning ways recently, it has vaulted them toward the top of the Mountain West, where they are positioned to make a possible run. It also means the Utes are two wins away from pretty much locking up the school's fifth straight bowl game.
The Utes stormed out early, beginning the game on a fairly impressive drive which ended with a Darrell Mack touchdown. However, the offense struggled to score the rest of the game, as the speedy TCU defense often kept Utah's ground and passing game from making big plays. It was Utah's defense, however, that stole the show. They had four picks (should have been five, but the interception was overruled by a bogus pass interference call) and shut down quarterback Andy Dalton.
Martail Burnett returned one interception for a touchdown right before the half and essentially delivered the knockout blow, as TCU's offense could never find its way back into the game the rest of the way -- even when they cut Utah's lead to 7 late in the fourth quarter. TCU's failure to score -- their only two touchdowns were off a blocked punt and a punt return well into Utah's territory -- ultimately did them in. And Utah's slow, methodical offense, did just enough to ensure they would preserve the season's longest winning streak.
That offensive success was aided by the great play of Darrell Mack, who ran for 100 yards for the fourth straight game. The Utes are undefeated when he runs for 100 or more and they will look to continue that streak next Saturday against Colorado State.
All in all, this was a solid win. TCU is a tough team that has the quickest defense Utah will play all season. They're also a great home team, as they entered Thursday's game only losing once there since joining the Mountain West prior to the 2005 season.
And now comes another test for Utah, going on the road and playing a hungry CSU team. CSU is winless on the season and will be gunning for a chance to end Utah's winning streak. If Utah gets out of that game with a victory, they won't leave the state of Utah until -- if they are eligible -- their bowl game.
Great win, now let's hope they contine to roll!
Martail Burnett rolls toward the end zone after intercepting TCU's pass.