Nick Nowakowski (75) and Marc Pouvave (77) of Utah celebrate their upset win over Stanford. (George Frey / Getty Images)
Salt Lake City — Travis Wilson weaved his way through the sea of red, torn between retreating to the locker room and celebrating this signature win with the Utah faithful that had stormed the field.
Like he really had a choice, especially after the enthusiastic crowd lifted him up.
That’s what happens after a quarterback helps orchestrate the biggest upset at home in school history and the most significant victory Utah has had since moving to the Pac-12 three years ago. The Utes made a goal-line stand in the final minute and Wilson threw two TD passes in a 27-21 victory against No. 5 Stanford on Saturday.
It was the first time in school history the Utes (4-2, 1-2 Pac-12) have knocked off a top-five program at Rice-Eccles Stadium. They beat No. 4 Alabama in the Sugar Bowl following the 2008 season.
“Great win,” Wilson simply said. “Our plan was perfect tonight.”
Not surprisingly, the fans rushed the field after the final gun. The ring leader? Defensive end Trevor Reilly.
“I was waving them on, saying, ‘Let’s go!’ ” Reilly said. “We came through tonight.”
The defense certainly did.
Kevin Hogan marched the Cardinal down to the 6 with a minute remaining. On third down, he threw an incomplete pass to Charlie Hopkins. Then, on fourth down, amid heavy pressure, Hogan overthrew Devon Cajuste.
The Utes took a knee twice to end the game, along with the 13-game winning streak of Stanford (5-1, 3-1).
“They’re good. They’ve always been good and we just weren’t good enough,” Stanford coach David Shaw said. “This is as well as I’ve seen Utah play on the offensive side. They really strung things together.”
Utah kept Stanford’s stingy defense off balance all day with a mix of draws and wide receiver screens. Dres Anderson caught a 51-yard TD pass and scored another on a short run. Bubba Poole finished with 111 yards rushing and had another 75 on seven catches.
Ty Montgomery returned a kickoff for a touchdown for a second straight week. This time, Montgomery took the ball a few steps deep in the end zone and darted through the Utes before going 100 yards, tying a Stanford record.
Cajuste made a diving catch on a fade route to trim the Utah lead to 27-21 with 9:22 remaining, but the Cardinal couldn’t complete the comeback.
“It seems to be that our thing as a team this year is toughness,” Reilly said. “I think that was personified there on the last stand.”
A week after throwing six interceptions, Wilson showed more poise in the pocket. His only mistake was on a screen, when his pass was tipped and picked off by Joe Hemschoot.
Wilson finished 23 of 34 for 234 yards. He cut his throwing hand on a hard tackle early in the third quarter, continuously wiping the top of it on his towel. But the injury didn’t seem to affect his touch. Neither did those interceptions.
“He’s a resilient kid. Tough as nails,” coach Kyle Whittingham said. “We had a feeling he was going to come back and play like he did tonight. Bottom line, he bounced back. He’s got a lot of competitive spirit.”
Utah showed its spunk, bouncing back from a close loss last week to UCLA.
“We weren’t able to make the plays (last week),” Whittingham said. “The difference tonight, we were able to make those plays.”
Stanford struggled on offense in the second half, turning the ball over twice on fumbles with Reilly recovering both. The Utes turned those into field goals by Andy Phillips. Phillips, a former U.S. ski team member, is 11 for 11 this season.
Kevin Hogan dropped to 10-1 as a starter.
Utah went on a season-long 99-yard drive in the second quarter, culminating with Anderson’s 3-yard score on an end-around. It gave Utah a 21-14 at halftime.
It was a day of firsts for the Stanford defense, which hadn’t allowed an opening quarter TD all season until Saturday. Karl Williams scored on a 4-yard pass from Wilson on Utah’s opening drive and Anderson later hauled in a 51-yard pass from Wilson. It was Anderson’s fifth play of 50 or more yards this season.
Montgomery joins Bob Bryan (1950 against San Francisco) and Damon Dunn (1994 at Arizona State) with 100-yard kickoff returns for Stanford.
“Utah played their hearts out,” Montgomery said.
No. 1 Alabama 48, (at) Kentucky 7: T.J. Yeldon and Kenyan Drake each ran for two touchdowns for Alabama (6-0, 3-0 Southeastern Conference).
No. 2 Oregon 45, (at) No. 16 Washington 24: Marcus Mariota threw for 366 yards and three touchdowns, added another 88 yards and a TD rushing, and Oregon (6-0, 3-0 Pac-12) won its 10th straight over their rivals to the north with a 45-24 victory over No. 16 Washington (4-2, 1-2).
(At) No. 3 Clemson 24, Boston College 14: Tajh Boyd ran for the go-ahead touchdown in the fourth quarter and defensive end Vic Beasley followed with a 13-yard fumble recovery score for Clemson (6-0, 4-0 Atlantic Coast Conference).
No. 25 Missouri 41, (at) No. 7 Georgia 26: Receiver Bud Sasser threw a 40-yard touchdown pass to L’Damian Washington in the fourth quarter after quarterback James Franklin left with a shoulder injury and Missouri (6-0, 2-0 SEC) held off Georgia (4-2, 3-1).
No. 9 Texas A&M 41, (at) Mississippi 38: Johnny Manziel threw for 346 yards, ran for two touchdowns for Texas A&M (5-1, 2-1 SEC).
(At) No. 10 Louisiana State 17, No. 10 Florida 6: Jeremy Hill rushed for 121 yards, Zach Mettenberger passed for 152, and the defense did the rest for LSU (6-1, 3-1 SEC).
Tyler Murphy passed for 115 yards for the Gators (4-2, 3-1).
Texas 36, No. 12 Oklahoma 20: At Dallas, Case McCoy threw two touchdowns and defensive tackle Chris Whaley returned an interception 31 yards for a score for Texas (4-2, 3-0 Big 12).
Oklahoma (5-1, 2-1) had won three in a row in the series.
No. 14 South Carolina 52, (at) Arkansas 7: Connor Shaw threw for 219 yards and accounted for four touchdowns for South Carolina (5-1, 3-1 SEC), which won its fourth straight.
No. 15 Baylor 35, (at) Kansas State 25: Bryce Petty threw for 342 yards and three touchdowns, and Ahmad Dixon made a critical interception late in the fourth quarter for Baylor (5-0, 2-0 Big 12).
(At) No. 20 Texas Tech 42, Iowa State 35: Backup quarterback Davis Webb threw for three touchdowns and 415 yards in place of the injured Baker Mayfield to lead Texas Tech (6-0, 3-0 Big 12).
(At) No. 23 Northern Illinois 27, Akron 20: Jordan Lynch threw for two touchdowns and ran for another as Northern Illinois (6-0, 2-0 Mid-American Conference East) extended its home winning streak to 23 games.
Akron’s road loss was its 30th straight, also the nation’s longest current streak.
(At) No. 24 Virginia Tech 19, Pittsburgh 9: Logan Thomas threw an early touchdown pass, Cody Journell kicked four field goals and Virginia Tech (6-1, 3-0 ACC) sacked Pittsburgh’s Tom Savage eight times.