Utah
1Alabama
31 - 17 Final
  for this game

Utah stuns Alabama in Sugar Bowl, completes perfect season

Jan 3, 2009 - 7:15 AM NEW ORLEANS (Ticker) -- Utah did much more than just crash this year's BCS party.

Brian Johnson and the Utes completely obliterated mighty Alabama, completing another perfect season and making the latest case for a college football playoff.

Johnson threw three touchdown passes as Utah punctuated its second unbeaten campaign in four years by upsetting the fourth-ranked Crimson Tide, 31-17, in Friday's Sugar Bowl.

"What can you say?" Utah head coach Kyle Whittingham said. "I love coaching these guys. It's been a storybook season for these guys."

But due to the current BCS format, the final chapter of Utah's story did not end with a national title, raising questions from both the winning coach and quarterback.

"As I sit here right now, why wouldn't (Utah) be No. 1 in the country?" Whittingham said. "You tell me. Somebody out there tell me why we wouldn't."

"What else do we have to prove?" Johnson asked. "People get hyped looking at the athletes and the glamour of the name that a program carries, but that's the reason why you play the game. I think we've proved, without question, that we're one of the best teams in the nation, if not the best."

The Mountain West champion Utes completed the first 13-0 season in school history and became the only program to record two unbeaten campaigns in the BCS era.

Utah went 12-0 in 2005, when the Urban Meyer-coached Utes beat Pittsburgh in the Fiesta Bowl to become the first non-BCS school to win a BCS game.

Four years later, the Utes made a much louder statement on the fast turf of the Louisiana Superdome, out-classing a storied program from a powerhouse conference to finish the season as the only unbeaten team in the Football Bowl Subdivision.

And by becoming the first non-BCS team to win two BCS bowls, the Utes fueled the debate regarding college football's process of determining a national champion.

"We're the best team in the country," Johnson said. "All we heard is how they were the better team. It was all about Alabama. Nobody thought that we could do it - the national pundits, no one. We believed in ourselves."

Despite running the table and beating several high-profile programs - Michigan, Oregon State, TCU, Brigham Young - this season, the Utes only climbed as high as sixth in the final BCS standings.

Therefore, the undefeated Utes will only be able to sit and watch as a pair of one-loss teams - Oklahoma and Florida - compete for the national championship next Thursday.

Whittingham feels that Utah deserves just as much consideration for the No. 1 ranking, regardless of the outcome next week.

"I don't know why we wouldn't deserve that consideration," he said. "Someone's going to have to explain to me why we wouldn't. There's only one undefeated team in the United States of America right now - and it's these guys."

Johnson, who was named the Sugar Bowl MVP, completed 27-of-41 passes for 336 yards for Utah, which moved the ball with ease against the nation's third-ranked defense.

Johnson's favorite target was Freddie Brown, who finished with 12 catches for 125 yards. Bradon Godfrey also was a consistent receiving threat, hauling in six receptions for 75 yards.

Conversely, the Utes unleashed a stunning defensive assault throughout the contest, forcing three turnovers and sacking John Parker Wilson eight times.

Installed as a substantial underdog against the SEC runner-up Crimson Tide (12-2), Utah opened the contest with a flurry, racing to a 21-0 first-quarter lead against an Alabama squad that often looked shell-shocked.

"I'm responsible to have the team ready to play," Alabama coach Nick Saban said. "I don't think we were ready to play today. I don't know why."

Johnson gave the Utes the lead for good less than four minutes into the contest, finding Brent Casteel for a 7-yard TD to open the scoring.

Robert Johnson intercepted Wilson two plays later, giving Utah the ball at Alabama's 32-yard line. The Utes needed just five plays to reach the end zone again, taking a 14-0 lead on Matt Asiata's 2-yard run with 8:37 left in the opening quarter.

After forcing a punt, Utah took a 21-0 lead when Brian Johnson finished a seven-play drive with an 18-yard scoring strike to Godfrey.

The Crimson Tide battled back, closing within 21-17 on Wilson's 4-yard TD pass to Glen Coffee three minutes into the third quarter.

But the Utes weathered the storm, responding with a seven-play drive capped by Johnson's 28-yard scoring strike to David Reed that made it 28-17 just two minutes later.

With their lead back to double digits, the Utes continued their constant harassment of Wilson, who lost a fumble that was recovered by Stevenson Sylvester at Alabama's 43-yard line with 5:23 remaining.

Louie Sakoda drilled a 29-yard field goal 2 1/2 minutes later, sealing the biggest win in school history as Utah's delirious fans serenaded their team with chants of "Un-defeated!"

And while the Utes celebrated, the Crimson Tide lamented a bitter end to their once-promising season.

Following an undefeated regular season that earned them the No. 1 ranking in the BCS, the Crimson Tide dropped a 31-20 decision to Florida in the SEC championship game, ending their bid for a bid for a 13th national title.

Less than a month after being beaten by the Gators, Alabama was humiliated in its 13th Sugar Bowl appearance and NCAA-record 56th bowl game.

However, Saban pointed to Alabama's quick turnaround from last season, when the Crimson Tide went just 7-6.

"I don't think we played our best football today," he said. "But I'm talking about the season. I'm really proud of the guys that provided leadership for it. ... We made a tremendous amount of progress as a program from last year to this year, and I'm really proud."

Following the loss to Florida, Saban commented that Alabama was still the only team from a "real BCS conference" to have an undefeated regular season.

Saban admitted Friday to regretting that remark, which clearly inspired the Utes.

"I apologize if anybody was offended by that," he said. "We have a tremendous amount of respect for Utah. We have a tremendous amount of respect for their team. And I apologize. I certainly misstated that.

"I don't think our guys played with enough intensity. So, if that's what gave them all their intensity, then I guess I'm responsible for the way they played and I'm responsible for the way we played."






  • 134
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    rundog2293 Added 5 roots

    Utah(7) 31, Alabama(4) 17  FinalJan 15 1:27 AM
  • 129
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    Utah(7) 31, Alabama(4) 17  FinalJan 3 1:39 PM


  • SUGAR BOWL
    AT NEW ORLEANS
    NCAAF FINAL 1ST 2ND 3RD 4TH TOTAL
    --- --- --- --- -----
    UTAH (7) 21 0 7 3 31
    ALABAMA (4) 0 10 7 0 17 FINAL
    SCORING SUMMARY
    1ST QUARTER: UTAH - TD, BRENT CASTEEL 6 YD PASS FROM
    BRIAN JOHNSON (LOUIE SAKODA
    KICK), 3:58. UTAH 7-0
    UTAH - TD, MATT ASIATA 2 YD RUN (LOUIE
    SAKODA KICK), 6:23. UTAH 14-0


    Jan 2 11:44 PM
  • SuketoKetchi Utah is gonna do it.

    Utah(7) 31, Alabama(4) 17  4th - 2:49Jan 2 11:37 PM
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    Utah(7) 31, Alabama(4) 17  4th - 2:49Jan 2 11:37 PM


  • SUGAR BOWL
    AT NEW ORLEANS
    NCAAF SUGAR BOWL
    FG UTAH
    LOUIE SAKODA 28 YD
    UTAH (7) 31
    ALABAMA (4) 17 2:49 LEFT, 4TH QTR

    Utah(7) 31, Alabama(4) 17  4th - 2:49Jan 2 11:37 PM
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    Silversword55 Added 5 roots

    Utah(7) 28, Alabama(4) 17  4th - 14:55Jan 2 11:00 PM


  • SUGAR BOWL
    AT NEW ORLEANS
    NCAAF END, 3RD QTR 1ST 2ND 3RD 4TH TOTAL
    --- --- --- --- -----
    UTAH (7) 21 0 7 28
    ALABAMA (4) 0 10 7 17 END, 3RD QTR
    SCORING SUMMARY
    1ST QUARTER: UTAH - TD, BRENT CASTEEL 6 YD PASS FROM
    BRIAN JOHNSON (LOUIE SAKODA
    KICK), 3:58. UTAH 7-0
    UTAH - TD, MATT ASIATA 2 YD RUN (LOUIE
    SAKODA KICK), 6:23. U

    Jan 2 10:58 PM
  • 114
    roots
    igglephile Added 5 roots

    Utah(7) 28, Alabama(4) 17  3rd - 4:21Jan 2 10:52 PM


  • SUGAR BOWL
    AT NEW ORLEANS
    NCAAF SUGAR BOWL
    TD UTAH
    DAVID REED 28 YD PASS FROM BRIAN JOHNSON
    (LOUIE SAKODA KICK)
    UTAH (7) 28
    ALABAMA (4) 17 10:04 LEFT, 3RD QTR

    Utah(7) 28, Alabama(4) 17  3rd - 10:04Jan 2 10:32 PM


  • SUGAR BOWL
    AT NEW ORLEANS
    NCAAF SUGAR BOWL
    TD ALABAMA
    GLEN COFFEE 4 YD PASS FROM JOHN PARKER WILSON
    (LEIGH TIFFIN KICK)
    UTAH (7) 21
    ALABAMA (4) 17 11:41 LEFT, 3RD QTR

    Utah(7) 21, Alabama(4) 17  3rd - 11:41Jan 2 10:24 PM


  • SUGAR BOWL
    AT NEW ORLEANS
    NCAAF HALFTIME 1ST 2ND 3RD 4TH TOTAL
    --- --- --- --- -----
    UTAH (7) 21 0 21
    ALABAMA (4) 0 10 10 HALFTIME
    SCORING SUMMARY
    1ST QUARTER: UTAH - TD, BRENT CASTEEL 6 YD PASS FROM
    BRIAN JOHNSON (LOUIE SAKODA
    KICK), 3:58. UTAH 7-0
    UTAH - TD, MATT ASIATA 2 YD RUN (LOUIE
    SAKODA KICK), 6:23. UTAH

    Jan 2 9:51 PM
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    roots
    shopgirl Added 5 roots

    Utah(7) 21, Alabama(4) 10  2nd - 0:17Jan 2 9:48 PM


  • SUGAR BOWL
    AT NEW ORLEANS
    NCAAF SUGAR BOWL
    TD ALABAMA
    JAVIER ARENAS 73 YD PUNT RETURN
    (LEIGH TIFFIN KICK)
    UTAH (7) 21
    ALABAMA (4) 10 5:28 LEFT, 2ND QTR

    Utah(7) 21, Alabama(4) 10  2nd - 5:28Jan 2 9:33 PM
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    Utah(7) 21, Alabama(4) 3  2nd - 14:55Jan 2 9:10 PM


  • SUGAR BOWL
    AT NEW ORLEANS
    NCAAF SUGAR BOWL
    FG ALABAMA
    LEIGH TIFFIN 52 YD
    UTAH (7) 21
    ALABAMA (4) 3 14:55 LEFT, 2ND QTR

    Utah(7) 21, Alabama(4) 3  2nd - 14:55Jan 2 9:06 PM


  • SUGAR BOWL
    AT NEW ORLEANS
    NCAAF END, 1ST QTR 1ST 2ND 3RD 4TH TOTAL
    --- --- --- --- -----
    UTAH (7) 21 21
    ALABAMA (4) 0 0 END, 1ST QTR
    SCORING SUMMARY
    1ST QUARTER: UTAH - TD, BRENT CASTEEL 6 YD PASS FROM
    BRIAN JOHNSON (LOUIE SAKODA
    KICK), 3:58. UTAH 7-0
    UTAH - TD, MATT ASIATA 2 YD RUN (LOUIE
    SAKODA KICK), 6:23. U

    Jan 2 9:02 PM


  • SUGAR BOWL
    AT NEW ORLEANS
    NCAAF SUGAR BOWL
    TD UTAH
    BRADON GODFREY 18 YD PASS FROM BRIAN JOHNSON
    (LOUIE SAKODA KICK)
    UTAH (7) 21
    ALABAMA (4) 0 4:01 LEFT, 1ST QTR

    Utah(7) 21, Alabama(4) 0  1st - 4:01Jan 2 8:55 PM
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    Utah(7) 7, Alabama(4) 0  1st - 11:02Jan 2 8:37 PM


  • SUGAR BOWL
    AT NEW ORLEANS
    NCAAF SUGAR BOWL
    TD UTAH
    MATT ASIATA 2 YD RUN
    (LOUIE SAKODA KICK)
    UTAH (7) 14
    ALABAMA (4) 0 8:37 LEFT, 1ST QTR

    Utah(7) 14, Alabama(4) 0  1st - 8:37Jan 2 8:37 PM
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    Utah(7) 7, Alabama(4) 0  1st - 11:02Jan 2 8:31 PM


  • SUGAR BOWL
    AT NEW ORLEANS
    NCAAF SUGAR BOWL
    TD UTAH
    BRENT CASTEEL 6 YD PASS FROM BRIAN JOHNSON
    (LOUIE SAKODA KICK)
    UTAH (7) 7
    ALABAMA (4) 0 11:02 LEFT, 1ST QTR

    Utah(7) 7, Alabama(4) 0  1st - 11:02Jan 2 8:29 PM
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    Utah(7) 0, Alabama(4) 0  1st - 14:55Jan 2 8:16 PM
  • 35
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    Utah(7) vs. Alabama(4)Jan 2 2:51 PM
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    Utah(7) vs. Alabama(4)Jan 2 2:25 PM
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    Utah(7) vs. Alabama(4)Jan 2 1:56 PM
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    Utah(7) vs. Alabama(4)Jan 2 7:48 AM
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    Utah(7) vs. Alabama(4)Dec 28 11:58 PM