PROVO -- Utah kicker Nate Borreson's 41-yard field goal with 4:13 left in the first half was all the Utes needed, as they claimed their first outright league championship since 1957 with a 3-0 win over BYU. The game also marked the first time BYU has been shutout since Arizona State blanked the Cougars back in 1975.
"I think Utah is the best team in our conference, obviously," BYU head coach Gary Crowton said. "They are playing very well right now. I was very pleased with how we went toe-to-toe to be with them, despite the adversity we have faced this year. I was pleased with how we handled things today."
In a classic defensive battle, the game's combined three points marked the fewest total points in the rivalry dating back to the 1928 season.
"The difference was a field goal," Crowton added. "I feel like the focus we had for this game was outstanding. There's a lot of things we can build on for next year. The defense played outstanding, and we continue to focus on that. We want to make it the best in the country. As far as the offense, we'll need to address those things during the off-season and see where recruiting might help us.
"We certainly have a lot of work to do in order to put this football team back to where we want it."
BYU had a chance to tie the score late in the first half. The Cougars had
driven to the Utah 33-yard line after a 16-yard run by backup quarterback
Jackson Brown, and a 19-yard pass from Brown to Toby Christensen. After Utah forced an incomplete pass on third-and-six, kicker Matt Payne missed on the 51-yard attempt with :37 remaining in the half.
Utah only allowed BYU to cross the 50-yard line one other time during the game, holding the Cougars to just 41 yards passing and only 156 total yards.
The Cougars had one final chance to drive the field and score, keeping the scoring streak in line. However, Toby Christensen fumbled the Utah punt, giving Utah the ball deep in BYU territory. The Utes held on to the ball and ran out the clock to record the shutout victory.
"It was a phenomenal number of games that BYU had not been shutout," Utah head coach Urban Meyer said. "That tells you what type of football team we were playing against. For many years they've been good on offense, but have struggled a little this year. We were able to come out with our "A" game on defense."
Alex Smith led Utah, passing for 113 yards including a 61-yarder to
Paris Warren. Smith also led Utah in rushing with 55 yards.
The BYU defense put forth another excellent effort, holding the Utes to 220
yards, 184 yards below their average. The defense also forced two Utah turnovers, including a fumble and an interception. Aaron Francisco, who leads the BYU roster with three interceptions, was credited with Smith's interception, marking only the second Smith had thrown all year.Ã¿