(Sports Network) – Andy Dalton threw for a career-high 355 yards and three touchdowns and the fourth-ranked TCU Horned Frogs rolled to an emphatic 47-7 romp over the No. 6 Utah Utes in a battle of unbeatens that essentially served as a de facto Mountain West Conference championship game.
The statement drubbing extended TCU’s regular season winning streak to 23 games and gave the Horned Frogs (10-0, 6-0 MWC) a signature win on a resume that already has them sitting at No. 3 in the BCS standings.
Josh Boyce caught two touchdowns, Ed Wesley and Waymon James each rushed for a score and receiver Jeremy Kerley tossed another to Bart Johnson in a first quarter that saw TCU jump out to a 20-0 lead.
The Frogs’ top-ranked defense took over from there, holding the Utes to a mere 199 yards, a majority coming when the game was already out of reach.
Utah (8-1, 5-1), which was one of five undefeated FBS teams and had a 21-game home winning streak entering the game, turned the ball over four times and gained just 51 yards rushing, well below its 191.5-yard per game average.
Jordan Wynn completed 16-of-35 passes for 148 yards with a fumble, two interceptions and a late TD pass to Matt Asiata in a loss that will surely drop the Utes from fifth in the BCS poll.
Utah moves to the new-look Pac-10 next year after shunning the MWC for the automatic BCS-qualifying conference, and TCU was more than happy to give the Utes a bitter going-away present at Rice-Eccles Stadium.
Dalton, who padded his case as a dark horse for the Heisman Trophy, was 4- for-4 for 64 yards on the game’s opening drive and got the Frogs on the scoreboard by finding Joyce on a corner route on 3rd-and-6 from the Utah 26- yard-line less than five minutes in.
Utah used a 67-yard punt from Sean Sellwood to pin TCU at its own seven with 2 1/2 minutes left in the frame. Unfazed, Dalton hit Boyce at the right hash mark on a play-action fake on the next play from scrimmage. The receiver broke a tackle at the 30 and was off to the races for a 93-yard jaunt, the third longest play in school history.
Later in the opening quarter, Wynn was scrambling in the pocket and was stripped from behind by Wayne Daniels. D.J. Yendrey dove for the loose ball, and TCU took over at the Utah 26. On the next play, Kerley lined up in the shotgun, faked a draw and fired a strike over the middle to Johnson for an easy hookup and a 20-0 lead following the missed extra point.
Ross Evans added a 24-yard field goal with eight minutes left in the second quarter, and the Frogs cruised into the locker room with a comfortable lead by never allowing the Utes to cross midfield.
Utah had two yards rushing in the opening 30 minutes and was outgained 328-72.
Things continued to go downhill for Utah after the break, as Tanner Brock intercepted Wynn in the opening minute and returned it 57 yards to the Utah four. Again TCU capitalized on its first play following the turnover, with Wesley running around the left tackle just 40 seconds into the half.
A Dalton-to-Jimmy Young hookup of 11 yards capped an 11-play, 76-yard march that resulted in a 37-0 cushion with 5 1/2 minutes to play in the third.
Evans’ 23-yard field goal early in the fourth preceded Utah’s only scoring drive, as Asiata caught a 19-yard TD to end the possibility of a shutout.
In a play emblematic of the rout, James recovered a fumble from backup quarterback Casey Pachall and shifted through the Utah defense for a 25-yard score with five minutes left.
This was the MWC’s first game between two of its teams ranked in the top-10…The Frogs, who had never won in three previous trips to Salt Lake City, set a MWC record with their 10th straight road win. They have won 15 straight conference games overall…TCU has allowed three touchdowns over the past six games…Dalton was 21-of-26 through the air…James and Wesley had 64 and 50 yards, respectively, for a TCU ground game that gained 177 yards…Young ended with 84 yards on five receptions…DeVonte Christopher led Utah with six catches for 73 yards…TCU was the highest ranked opponent Utah had hosted in Rice-Eccles Stadium since it opened in 1998…TCU hosts San Diego State next Saturday…Utah heads to South Bend for a date with the struggling Fighting Irish.