Utah Wins Second BCS Bowl
by Mike Mitchell
January 2, 2009
Utah broke out to a 21-0 lead in the first quarter and went on to defeat Alabama 31-17 in the Sugar Bowl to finish 13-0.
The Utes were the only team in 2008 to make it through the regular season and bowl season with an unblemished record. Utah also became the only non-BCS conference school to go to two BCS bowl games, and the Utes are 2-0 in those games.
Utah has won 8 straight bowl games which is the longest current streak in the nation. Boston College had its 8-game bowl winning streak snapped in a loss to Vanderbilt in this year's Music City Bowl. The Utes have not lost a bowl game since the 1996 Insight Bowl when it was known as the Copper Bowl.
Overall, Utah is 12-3 in bowl games. Alabama is 31-22-3.
Playing without Andre Smith, the Tide's offensive guard that won the Outland Trophy, the Utes registered 8 sacks on John Parker Wilson.
Utah QB Brian Johnson threw for 333 yards and 3 TD's while the Alabama offense managed just 212 total yards.
Utah covered 68 yards in 5 plays, all completed passes by Johnson, to go up 7-0 with 11:02 to go in the 1st quarter. Robert Johnson killed the Crimson Tide's next possession with an interception on the second play, leading to Matt Asiata's 2-yard touchdown run for a 14-0 lead with 8:37 left in the first quarter.
Following an Alabama punt, Utah scored on a third consecutive possession when Johnson hit Bradon Godfrey for a 17-yard TD pass and a 21-0 lead with 4:01 still left to play in the opening quarter.
Alabama staged a rally in the second quarter, cutting the lead to 21-10 by halftime when Javier Arenas returned a Louis Sakoda punt 73 yards for the Tide's first touchdown.
Following a Utah fumble on the second play of the second half, Wilson's 4-yard TD pass to Glen Coffee made it 21-17 and 'Bama was in position to take command.
But Johnson answered back, leading his Utes on a 72-yard drive in just seven plays. David Reed finished the drive with a 26-yard touchdown catch to stretch the Utah lead back to eleven points at 28-17.
Leigh Tiffin missed a 49-yard field goal on Alabama's next possession (he also missed a 47-yarder in the second quarter) , and the Tide never crossed into Utah territory afterward.
Alabama went 12-0 in the regular season, but lost to Florida 31-20 in the SEC Championship game. With the bowl loss, the Tide will enter 2009 on a two-game losing streak.
Utah will begin next season with the longest winning streak in the nation at 14 games.