Utes quarterback Travis Wilson has career day.
Utah Utes quarterback Travis Wilson (7) warms up prior to the game against the Fresno State Bulldogs at Rice-Eccles Stadium. (Russ Isabella-USA TODAY Sports)
Travis Wilson threw for a career-high five touchdowns, and Scott had six receptions for 77 yards. Wilson completed 11 of 20 passes for 181 yards and left the game early in the third quarter with Utah ahead 38-7.
Utah’s defense had seven sacks but gave up 283 yards passing.
Fresno State didn’t earn a first down until the second quarter, after gaining just four yards and punting five times in the initial period. Duke transfer Connette relieved Brian Burrell, who started the game 2-for-8 for 14 yards, and the Bulldogs moved down the field in the second quarter, but the drive died on a failed fourth down at the Utah 25.
Connette was 16 of 24 for 177 yards and a touchdown and ran for another. Burrell was much more efficient when he returned in the fourth quarter and threw two touchdown passes, including a 4-yarder to Greg Watson on the final play of the game.
Fresno State had not lost consecutive regular season games under third-year coach Tim DeRuyter but has now suffered back-to-back blowouts, after falling to USC 52-13 in the opener.
The last Utah quarterback to throw five touchdowns in a game was Brian Johnson, against San Diego State on Nov. 15 in Utah’s undefeated 2008 season. Wilson’s previous high was three TD tosses.
The order of wins and losses often dictates the narrative for your season. If you lose early before catching fire late, you end up with a story of redemption and, potentially, big hopes for the next year. If you win early and drop a couple of games late, things end up a little more sour simply because the stakes got too high for you to maintain.
The narrative for Fresno State in 2013 was more latter than former. The Bulldogs began the season 10-0 with wins over San Diego State on the road and Utah State at home in the MWC title game. We know now that they would have qualified for a BCS bowl.
But a defense that had been decent for much of the year got absolutely torched in a shootout loss to San Jose State, and the season ended with a thumping at the hands of USC in the Las Vegas Bowl.
Things won’t get much easier for the Bulldogs as Nebraska comes into Fresno in Week 3. But if Fresno State can beat Nebraska at home and reel off 10 wins to finish this season the end tale won’t be quite as disappointing as 2013. That alone makes things pretty encouraging. It’s still early and the Bulldogs are technically rebuilding at the quarterback position and that can make the first few games miserable.
The Utes are finding themselves at the right time. If Wilson can stay healthy for the season and Utah can pull out a few key wins (games with Oregon and USC at home still to come) the Utes have the talent and depth in 2014 to go bowling and just maybe (a big maybe) make the playoffs.
Utah is not rebuilding, they’re loading up and the future is bright in Salt Lake City for Utes fans who have been left home the past two bowl seasons.
Utah has a bye week before heading to the Big House to square off with Michigan. A win for the Utes in Ann Arbor would go a long way for Utah’s bid to make the playoff.
Fresno State will be home Saturday against Big Ten power, No. 19 Nebraska, which survived a scare against McNeese State on Sept. 6. Nothing would be more positive for the Bulldogs than a win at home against Nebraska.