Utes stomp ‘Bama in Sugar Bowl

By Tony Pizza, Sports Editor

NEW ORLEANS8212;It’s a cliché, but seasons don’t get much sweeter than Utah’s.

Despite being heavy underdogs, the Utah football team beat up on Alabama in nearly every way possible and scored a 31-17 win over the former No. 1 football team in the country in the 75th annual Sugar Bowl.

“We had a great plan going in offensively, and our guys played their tales off,” What can I say? I love coaching these guys. It’s been a storybook season for these guys.”

Quarterback Brian Johnson was named the game’s Most Outstanding Player behind a 27-for-41, 336 yard three touchdown performance.

“We’re the best,” Johnson said. “We’re the best team in the country. All we heard is how they were the better team. It was all about Alabama. Nobody thought that we could do it8212;the national pundits, no one.”

All except the guys in the white jerseys.

Utah finished 2008 as the only undefeated team in college football and extended their nation-long winning streak to 14 games. The Utes also own the longest Bowl Game winning streak at eight straight.

“I have to give a lot of credit to the Utah team,” Alabama head coach Nick Sabban said. “They played an outstanding game. Their defense was outstanding in this game. We could not run the ball effectively against them.”

Alabama entered the game ranked No. 22 in the nation with an average of more than 196 yards per game on the ground. Utah’s defense mixed in several run-blitz schemes and held the Crimson Tide to 31 yards rushing on 33 attempts.

Utah jumped to an early 21-0 lead in the first quarter behind a start that included a no-huddle offense on Utah’s first offensive possession of the game. Five plays after RJ Rice recovered a muffed punt return, Johnson found Casteel on a 7-yard pass to put the Utes out to an early lead. Robert Johnson then made the first of his two interceptions, two plays later. It took the Utes five plays and 32 yards to make the game 14-0 on a 2-yard Matt Asiata rush. Utah made it three straight touchdown drives when Johnson found Bradon Godfrey from the 18-yard line.

“(Johnson) had a phenomenal football game,” Whittingham said. “he’s our team leader. What a great way for him to go out.”

With two more BCS Bowl games till to be played, Johnson and Whittingham both challenged anyone out there to find a reason why Utah doesn’t deserve to be the top-ranked team in the country.

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