It took four quarters, two overtimes, and two simple words, Devontae Booker, for No. 20 Utah to get another big road win, beating Oregon State in Corvallis 29-23. Booker amassed 226 yards and three touchdowns, including the go-ahead touchdown in regulation and a TD run in each of the overtime periods. On a night when the passing game again struggled to the tune of only 62 yards, every time Utah needed a play on offense, Devontae Booker delivered again and again.
Utah went with Kendal Thompson at quarterback to start the game, after his game-winning performance at UCLA nearly two weeks ago. Thompson, however, failed to move the ball in the first half, turning the football over twice (one interception on a tipped pass by wide receiver Dres Anderson and one fumble). He finished 4-for-8 for 17 yards, with nine carries for 20 yards. To start the second half, Utah trotted out 6-7 junior quarterback Travis Wilson. Wilson struggled out of the gate, as well, managing only 5-for-10 passing for 45 yards, with four carries for a loss of three yards. The big quarterback did, however, have a great run on a read-option on third and two to extend Utah's first overtime drive. While the quarterbacks struggled, they were also not helped out by their wide receivers, with Anderson and tight end Westlee Tonga both dropping multiple passes. Tim Patrick had the best game, with two catches for just 19 yards. Utes wideout Kenneth Scott was silent for the game, not recording a catch.
The game was not all about offense. Oregon State quarterback Sean Mannion was under pressure all game by the stout Utah front, and the Utes defense recorded 10 tackles for a loss, as well as five sacks, an interception, and a forced fumble (which they pounced on). Nate Orchard notched two sacks and four tackles for a loss by himself. Gionni Paul recorded his third interception of the season (and dropped what could have been a pick six). Opposite Orchard, Hunter Dimick was also a beast, helping bottle up the Beavers' potent running game.
The Utah secondary held Mannion in check in the first half, allowing under 50 passing yards to the talented quarterback. Mannion got things going with two big pass plays in the second half, but he finished with only 272 yards passing, two touchdowns, and one interception (a big improvement for Utah's defense compared to last year when Mannion threw for 443 yards, with five touchdowns and no interceptions).
But all the drama came down to the last few minutes of the fourth and the overtimes. Trailing 9-13 in regulation, and with Oregon State seemingly seizing the momentum on their home field, Wilson and Booker orchestrated a nine play, 94-yard drive, culminating in Booker's go-ahead touchdown plunge from a yard out. Not to be outdone, Mannion drove his team 50 yards to set up kicker Trevor Romaine from 49 yards. Perfect all night, Romaine calmly drove the football through the uprights and his Beavers safely into overtime.
In the first overtime period, Utah had the ball first, and Booker scored from 15 yards out to put Utah on the board first. After Utes kicker Andy Phillips tacked on the PAT, Oregon State would need both a touchdown and PAT to keep pace and send the game into another overtime period. On fourth down and goal from the two, Mannion lofted a fade route into the left corner of the end zone, which was caught Jordan Villamin for a touchdown. Romaine's kick tied the game at 23 and sent it to a second overtime.
In the second overtime, Utah's defense managed to stop the Beavers' surging offense, setting up a FG try. But Romaine would miss the attempt, meaning Utah only needed a field goal to win the game. But on Utah's next possession, Booker made sure there would be no doubt and no kicks required, running the ball into the end zone from 19 yards out for the final 29-23 margin.
This was Booker's third straight game rushing for 155+ yards, which has only been done by three other players so far this season. His 742 yards in six games gives him almost 124 yards per game, which should make Booker the second leading rusher in the Pac-12 by Sunday. He also has seven touchdowns on the season, which also places him near the top of the conference.
This win may have been nerve-racking, but it was a win. Utah (5-1, 2-1) now has two Pac-12 road wins under their belt for the first time since the 2011 season, the last season Utah made a bowl. This is also the first time the Utes have had a winning record in Pac-12 play, and it's the best start to a season for Utah since joining the conference. With the win, Utah has announced themselves loudly and clearly as a contender for the Pac-12 South division, as well as the conference title.