POSTGAME BLOG: (7) Utah 28, Air Force 23

POSTGAME BLOG: (7) Utah 28, Air Force 23

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Score: (7) Utah 28, Air Force 23

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. -- If history had any indication of what was to take place tonight, we all would have seen this coming. It took everything they had, but the 7th ranked Utah Utes came out on top 28-23 against Air Force in their last meeting as conference opponents.

Utah (8-0, 5-0 MWC) forced five Air Force turnovers, but still had to come up with a sack with no time left to preserve their five point win over the Falcons (5-4, 3-3 MWC).

Final Stats
1st Downs1912
3rd down8-174-11
4th down2-30-3
Total Yards327411

Utah switched roles with the Falcons, chewing up over 36 minutes and running the ball 51 times. It was a game plan that paid off as the Utes remain undefeated heading into their highly anticipated matchup with conference rival TCU.

Next up for the Utes: vs No. 4 TCU (Saturday Nov. 6)
Next up for the Falcons: at Army (Saturday Nov. 6)

Time Remaining: 0:19 Fourth Quarter
Score: (7) Utah 28, Air Force 23

After making a school record 18 straight field goals, Joe Phillips' attempt hits the upright and misses. Air Force ball with 3 minutes left.

Air Force QB Tim Jefferson 1 yard short on 4th down and Utah will take over. Utah needs 1 first down to run the clock out as the Falcons have two timeouts.

Utah plays conservatively, punts and downs it at the one yard line. Falcons have 99 yards to go for the win.

Time Remaining: 7:35 Fourth Quarter
Score: (7) Utah 28, Air Force 23

Two critical penalties against the Utes push them back and Utah is forced to punt. Momentum all Air Force right now.

Tim Jefferson follows up 59 yard run with a 49 yard pass to Kyle Halderman. Two point conversion no good. 28-23 Utah's lead now just 5. Air Force with 114 yards of offense already here in the fourth quarter.

Wow. Three and out. On third down Wynn fumbles, but is able to recover. After punt its Falcon ball on Utah 48 yard line.

HUGE stop by freshman safety Brian Blechen on 4th and 3 for the Falcons. Utah takes over on downs on their own 43 yard line.

Time Remaining: 11:34 Fourth Quarter
Score: (7) Utah 28, Air Force 17

3rd quarter total offense stats - Air Force: -1 yard; Utah: 133 yards. On the Falcons first play of the fourth quarter, Jefferson's pass is tipped by Matt Martinez and intercepted by Justin Taplin-Ross. Air Force has turned the ball over a season-high five times.

Utah is unable to convert a 4th down on the Falcon 35 yard line, and Air Force will take over on downs.

And just like that, Air Force capitalizes on the momentum gained from their defensive stop, and Tim Jefferson runs 59 yards for a touchdown. Utah 28, Air Force 17.

Time Remaining: 0:54 Third Quarter
Score: (7) Utah 28, Air Force 10

Three really sloppy plays by the Falcons and the Utes have the ball on the Falcon 18 yard line. Asher Clark fumbled a pitch, but recovered it for a loss of 11. A quick slant pass was dropped, and on third down Jefferson's pass is tipped and intercepted by Utah freshman safety Brian Blechen, his second interception of the season (last INT was in overtime against Pitt to seal the win for Utah).

On 4th down deep in Falcon territory, the Utes run a fake field goal with Joe Phillips taking a pitch out of the kicker position and running it right up the middle for a first down. Great play, and two plays later, Utah scores on a 1 yard run by Eddie Wide. 28-10 Utah.

Time Remaining: 4:25 Third Quarter
Score: (7) Utah 21, Air Force 10

After a long, plug and chug drive, full of four yards and a cloud of dust plays, the Utes go up top and Jordan Wynn hits Luke Matthews for a 36 yard touchdown. Utah extends their lead, 21-10 over Air Force. Utah drove 91 yards in 12 plays.

Time Remaining: 11:15 Third Quarter

Score: (7) Utah 14, Air Force 10

After four straight runs to start the half, Jordan Wynn throws into double coverage and his pass is intercepted by Anthony Wright on the Falcon 35 yard line.

Utah's defense is able to force a Falcon three and out, but a quick punt by QB Jefferson pins the Utes all the way back on their own 9 yard line. Utah did a great job covering the edges of the field, not allowing Air Force to get to the sidelines on any of their sweep option runs.

Score: (7) Utah 14, Air Force 10

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. -- Utah turned an early Falcon turnover into a 13 play, 68 yard touchdown drive to take an early 7-0 lead over Air Force.

The Utes ran the ball 12 times on the drive, taking off 7:10 off the clock. But the Falcons answered quickly, taking their next drive for a touchdown to tie the game.

1st Half Stats
1st Downs98
3rd down4-73-5
4th down1-10-1
Total Yards141252

Air Force has turned the ball three times in the first half, but regained momentum with a successful onside kick following their touchdown drive.

The Falcons hold a 252-141 lead in total offense yards, but the three turnovers have all come in Utah territory, a really good reason why Utah has a four point lead at the half.

Utah will need to make some defensive adjustments at the half to slow down this Air Force offense which is averaging 8.4 yards per play. The Utes are only averaging 4.1 yards per play.

Time Remaining: 1:36 Second Quarter
Score: (7) Utah 14, Air Force 10

Air Force moving the ball through the air, converting another third and long, this time a 22 yard pass from Tim Jefferson to Mikel Hunter. Air Force elects to go for it on 4th and two near midfield, converts, but Asher Clark fumbles the ball and Utah recovers. That is the third Air Force turnover of the first half. Utah ball on their own 42 yard line.

Time Remaining: 6:22 Second Quarter
Score: (7) Utah 14, Air Force 10

Utah converts on a critical 4th and 5, just out of field goal range with it being as windy as it is. Wynn threw a great pass to Shaky Smithson, and Smithson was able to get enough yards for a first down.

After getting down to the 1 yard line, Matt Asiata's second effort puts the Utes back on top, 14-10 over the Falcons. Utah with another long drive, 12 plays. This is exactly the drive I had hoped the Utes could put together to regain some momentum.

Time Remaining: 12:45 Second Quarter
Score: Air Force 10, (7) Utah 7

Utah goes three and out after recovering the Air Force fumble, and Sean Sellwood's punt only makes it to the Utah 34 yard line. To make matters worse, Air Force runs a reverse on 3rd and 10 and picks up 21. Utah is able to hold Air Force to just an Erik Soderberg 23 yard field goal, though, and the Falcons take the lead 10-7. Now is the time for Utah to wake up and regain some of the momentum.

Time Remaining: 0:24 First Quarter

Score: (7) Utah 7, Air Force 7

Another costly turnover by Air Force after easily moving the ball down the field again after the successful onside kick. Utah standout DB Lamar Chapman strips Joshua Freeman after a 45 yard catch, and after an official review its ruled Utah ball on their own 9 yard line.

Time Remaining: 2:50 First Quarter
Score: (7) Utah 7, Air Force 7

Air Force answers with an eight play 80 yard TD drive. I know its early, but Utah's defense looks slow. Air Force is running the option at will, and even on the first drive that ended in a fumble, has been able to get big play after big play. Utah 7, Air Force 7.

To make up for the early turnover, Air Force goes for the onside kick and gets it. Falcons with all of the momentum, averaging 11.6 yards per play.

Time Remaining: 6:43 First Quarter
Score: (7) Utah 7, Air Force 0

Air Force will start out the game on offense. Utah is in their road white jerseys and red pants, while Air Force is in their blue jerseys and white pants.

Air Force goes to the air early as QB Tim Jefferson hooks up with Mikel Hunter for a 31 yard gain, but Utah DB Brandon Burton forces Hunter to fumble and the Utes recover. 1st and 10 Utah on their own 32 yard line.

Seven straight carries for Utah RB Matt Asaita, as Utah starts out attacking Air Force's 110th ranked rush defense (205.8 yards per game). Utah with a first and 10 on Air Force 36 yard line.

What a nice drive by the Utes. 12 runs, 1 pass, capped off with a 1 yard TD run by Eddie Wide. Utes take first lead, 7-0. Utah averaged 5.2 yards per rush on the drive.

Pregame Blog

No. 7 Utah continues its quest for a perfect season when it visits struggling Air Force today.

The Utes, ranked No. 8 in the BCS, improved to 7-0 overall and 4-0 in the Mountain West Conference by dismantling Colorado State 59-6 last week.

The Falcons (5-3, 3-2 Mountain West) have dropped two straight after cracking the Top 25 for the first time since 2002. They lost 27-25 at San Diego State, then were whipped 38-7 at TCU last Saturday.

While Utah has won six of the last seven meetings and today's game might look like a mismatch, Air Force always plays the Utes tough.

Crimson Pride
[![](]( *[**Mike Wright: Utes near "complete" performance** ](* *Utah circles the Air Force game every season, and perhaps the reason for this is because it takes a complete team effort to grind out a victory. If the Utah offense can control the clock and win the time of possession battle, look for the Utes to win comfortably.*

The Academy remains the only Mountain West team with a winning record against the Utes. Air Force leads the series 14-12 despite losing at home 23-16 in overtime last year.

So the Utes must be careful not to look ahead to next week's home showdown with No. 4 TCU.

Utah, which is leaving for the Pac-10 Conference next season, is going out with a bang. Quarterback Jordan Wynn completed 23 of 29 throws for 321 yards and three touchdowns last week while the defense held the Rams to minus-5 rushing yards through three quarters.

Utah is sixth nationally in rushing defense (87.4 yards per game).

This well-rounded squad averages 47.7 points, good for third in the nation, and gives up 12.9 points, which ranks fourth. There are no obvious weaknesses.

Air Force coach Troy Calhoun thinks this may be the best Utah team, ever.

"Two years ago they were outstanding and at the end of the season they very easily should have had an opportunity to play for a national championship or even a vote for the national championship," Calhoun said.

"This squad is better. They are much faster and more athletic, especially at the skill position and defensively. They are an excellent football team."

Game 8 Notes
No. 8/7 Utah (7-0, 4-0 MWC) vs.
Air Force (5-3, 3-2 MWC)
Date: Saturday, Oct. 30, 2010
Time: 5:30 p.m. (MT)
Site: Falcon Stadium (46,692/Fieldturf) Colorado Springs, Colo.

TV: CBS C Radio: ESPN700
Series Record: Air Force leads 14-12
Last Meeting:(2009) Utah 23, Air Force 16 (OT)
Kickoff Weather: Partly cloudy; Temps: lower 60s


Air Force has been scuffling since senior fullback Jared Tew broke his right fibula early in the loss at San Diego State. The second-team all-conference player had rushed for 540 yards on 110 carries this season when he got hurt. His absence has forced senior Nathan Walker (15 carries, 59 yards over the last two games) into a key role in the triple option.

Still, the Falcons continue to lead the nation in rushing at 326.5 yards per game.

Injuries have depleted Air Force at receiver. Zack Kauth, who was filling in for starter Kevin Fogler, is dealing with an ankle injury that could keep him out two more weeks.

Rushing defense has been a problem all season for the Falcons. They rank 110th nationally (205.8 yards per game). Utah has a stable of runners, including Eddie Wide and Matt Asiata, who should be able to take advantage.


Keys to the Game for Utah

  • Take care of business - The Utes cannot get caught overlooking Air Force with their highly anticipated matchup with conference rival TCU coming up next week. It is always a guarantee that Air Force will play for a full 60 minutes, coming back into games that most thought were already in the bag for the other team (Oklahoma, San Diego State)
  • Force them to the air - Put up a lot of points early, and you take away the Falcons' main offensive attack - the triple option. Air Force loves to hold on to the ball and chew some clock - if the Utes get up big early, it will take the Falcons out of their game.

MY PREDICTION: Utah 41, Air Force 10
Utah has had plenty of close games with the Falcons, as in the 26-game history, the total point differential is just 19 points (less than 1 point per game). Utah has won six of the last seven games, but the greatest margin of victory was only 14 (2004: UTA 49, AF 35). Could this be Utah's greatest team ever? Today will be a good test, especially if the Utes can dominate the Falcons like they have never done before.

Let me know what you think. Email me your predictions/questions

Team Stat Comparison
![](/images/team_logo/ncaa/utah.png) Utah

Air Force Advantage
Points (Per Game)47.71 29.88

Passing Yards (Per Game)273.86 113.75

Rushing Yards (Per Game)193.29 326.50

3rd Down Conversions (Season)56%51%

4th Down Conversions (Season)80%76%

Time of Possession (Per Game)29:2531:04

Red Zone Scores (Season)89%86%

**Last Year ...** Eddie Wide scored on a 1-yard run in overtime and the Ute defense stopped Air Force at the 7-yard line on downs for a 23-16 victory. in Salt Lake City On a day when the Ute offense earned just eight fi rst downs, fumbled six times (losing two) and was held to a season-low 267 yards, the defense came to the rescue. Posting career tackle highs were Robert Johnson (15) and the entire defensive line of Dave Kruger (13), Koa Misi (12), Sealver Siliga (11) and Derrick Shelby (9). Stevenson Sylvester recorded a season-high 13 tackles for a defense that was on the fi eld for nearly 39 minutes. Big offensive guns were Wide, who netted 121 yards with two touchdowns, and David Reed with 149 receiving yards. Wide became the seventh Ute ever to post four-consecutive 100-yard games, while Reed's number included the second longest reception in school history—a 90-yard touchdown play.

Utah Miscellaneous Stats

  • The 2010 Utes are on a school-record scoring pace, averaging 47.71 points per game, which ranks third in the nation. The school record is 45.33 ppg, set in 2004
  • Utah is ranked No. 3 in the nation in scoring offense (47.7 ppg) and No. 4 in scoring defense (12.9 ppg).
  • Shaky Smithson, the fi rst-team Midseason All-America punt returner by, leads the nation in punt return average (23.33), punt return yards (560), total punt returns (24) and punt returns per game (3.43).
  • In 26 games against Air Force, just 19 points separate these two teams! Air Force leads the series 14-12, although Utah has closed the gap by winning six of the last seven games
  • Utah has scored 40% of its total points in the second quarter, when it is outscoring its foes 134-13
  • Utah ranks second in the nation and first in the MWC in pass efficiency offense (176.0).
  • Utah is ranked in the top 10 in the nation in total defense, rushing defense, scoring defense, pass defense, third down defense and opponent first downs
  • Utah is ranked second nationally in both kickoff return average (28.06) and punt return average (21.14)

Air Force Miscellaneous Stats

  • Air Force leads the nation in rushing offense with a 326.5 per-game average.
  • Air Force is third in the MWC and 12th nationally in pass defense with a 166.0 norm.
  • Air Force held BYU to just 88 yards passing which is the first time since 2003 the Cougars have been held below 100 yards.
  • Air Force has had more total yards than its opponent in 13 of the last 15 games.
  • Air Force has scored in 215 consecutive games dating back to 1992.
  • Air Force has blocked four kicks this season.
  • Air Force is 4-1 this season and 20-4 when it has a 100-yard rusher under Troy Calhoun (since 2007).

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Robert Jackson sports writer


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