Utah defensive coordinator Gary Andersen challenged his guys to force a turnover every 20 snaps in Saturday's 48-0 win over Utah State.

"That was the emphasis on this game," said cornerback Eric Shyne, who got things started by returning an interception 21 yards for a touchdown on the game's second play. "We were coming out, and we were fired up."

The Utes, he added, all wanted to get fumbles and such and were stripping the ball throughout the game.

"It turned out to be in our favor," Shyne said after Utah recovered four fumbles and picked off two passes in the most lopsided contest ever played in the 106-game series between the rivals.

"The key to the game was the defense and their takeaways," head coach Kyle Whittingham said. "We scored twice on defense, so the game ball goes to the defense tonight."

And for the record, the Utes met Andersen's goal and then some.

Excluding punts, they forced turnovers on USU's

second, 21st, 27th, 37th and 40th plays from scrimmage.

After Shyne's early interception, linebacker Malakai Mokofisi and cornerback Eric Weddle got into the act with fumble recoveries in the first half.

Despite a commanding 24-0 lead at the break, Utah wasn't finished.

Late in the third quarter, freshman linebacker Stevenson Sylvester returned an interception 45 yards for a score and defensive lineman Greg Newman pounced on a USU fumble.

For good measure, the Utes capped things off with a special teams recovery in the fourth quarter. Fano Tagovailoa pounced on a fumble on a kickoff to give the Utes six takeaways in the game.

"They come in bunches. That's just how it goes. It was just our night," Whittingham said. "I've got a lot of respect for coach (Brent) Guy and what he's doing up here, but we were sharp tonight, and we played well."

The Utes, who have now won a record nine straight games in the series, held the Aggies scoreless for the first time since 1990. They did so by limiting USU to just 98 yards of total offense, the sixth lowest total in Utah history.

"You can't ask for more than that from your defense," said quarterback Brett Ratliff, who threw three touchdown passes and rushed for 45 yards to lead the offense.

The Utes wound up with 401 yards and 19 first downs in the lopsided affair.

"Our point was to start off fast on offense," said receiver Derrek Richards, who scored twice and had a career-high seven receptions for 90 yards. "We wanted to score as many points as we can. Then the defense ended up scoring twice for us."

All in all, he continued, the Utes played hard on both sides of the ball.

Next up: San Diego State.

"We've got conference play cranking up next weekend at San Diego, which will be a tough road trip," Whittingham said.


E-mail: dirk@desnews.com