Utah Sets Records, Crushes Stanford 52-7

Running backs Tavion Thomas, Micah Bernard, and TJ Pledger carried Utah over Stanford, winning 52-7.

Those three players accounted for 394 rushing yards and six rushing touchdowns. If you’ve ever heard the phrase, “running back by committee”, this is the epitome of that idea. All three of those players averaged over eight yards a carry, which is especially impressive of Thomas, who got 20 carries in the game. Thomas now has had eight touchdowns in two games, bringing his season total to 14.

Pledger and Bernard scored a touchdown each, but Pledger also set a record- the longest touchdown run in Utah Ute history. With just three minutes left in the first half, the Utes were backed up to their own four-yard line after a Stanford punt. They lined up in a jumbo set, gave the ball to Pledger, and must’ve watched in glee as the running back out-ran the entire Cardinal defense for a 96-yard touchdown play on the first play of the drive.

This explosive play elevated the Utes to 6-3 overall, 5-1 in Pac-12 play, while the Cardinal drop to 3-6 overall, and 2-5 in the conference.

Dominating Trenches

Now, the running backs get the stats and the accolades, but this offensive line put on a masterclass of run blocking. Stanford’s defense flattened at every opportunity, getting pushed yards back at a time. I mentioned in my game preview that the Stanford run defense was the worst in the conference, and one of the worst in the nation, but I didn’t think that it would be this bad.

It wasn’t just on offense that the Utah linemen dominated, however. The defensive line didn’t allow Stanford any hope of running or throwing the ball, which allowed star linebacker Devin Lloyd to get nine total tackles, the most out of any player in the game.

The Utes’ defense was able to hit Stanford hard, getting five sacks and 15 tackles-for-loss in the game. Utah didn’t even give up a first down until they had a 21-0 lead. Stanford was held to 167 total yards and just one scoring drive- a near-perfect game.

Utah even forced two turnovers, one a fumble and the other an interception, in back-to-back drives. Both plays led to points as Utah put together a touchdown drive off the fumble, and the interception was returned for a touchdown by Devin Lloyd.

How Did Stanford Beat Oregon?

I have no clue how that happened. I watched that game, and it still doesn’t make sense. Yes, Stanford was without starting QB Tanner McKee against Utah, but he wouldn’t have made that big of a difference. Any given Saturday, I guess.

Checking on the Crystal Ball

In every game preview, I consult a crystal ball on particular events that it says will happen during the game. Now, it is time to see how it did.

  • The Utes rush for over 200 yards. This one was over in the first half. The crystal ball was conservative on this one.
  • Stanford commits two turnovers. Correct again, though it didn’t happen till the fourth quarter.
  • Tavion Thomas rushes for two touchdowns. Again, the ball was conservative. He had two in the first quarter.
  • Cam Rising rushes for a touchdown. Incorrect. The Stanford defense just kept giving up touchdowns from HB dives, so I guess Rising didn’t really need to run.
  • Utah wins 35-17. I’m counting it. The important part was the blowout, and the ball got that right. It just thought Stanford would put up a fight.

The crystal ball went four out of five, a pretty good week for the ball, I must say. We will have to see how it does next week, when I consult it on the Utes’ upcoming trip to Arizona in another Pac-12 South showdown.