Utah remained in contention to be a two-time BCS buster by looking a little like the Utes team that did it first.
Five players scored touchdowns and the No. 14 Utes had their best offensive performance of the season in a 49-16 win over Colorado State on Saturday, improving to 8-0 for the fourth time in school history.
"It was definitely our most balanced game and we really got the spread run game going," said Brian Johnson, who passed for two touchdowns and tied Alex Smith's school record of 21 wins as Utah's starting quarterback. "That's where it all started, spreading that defense out and making them cover every option we had on the field. We made it tough on them."
Corbin Louks, Johnson's backup, ran for 109 yards and two touchdowns, Matt Asiata scored twice and Jereme Brooks took a reverse for a touchdown as the Utes (8-0, 4-0) gained 549 yards of offense -- 162 more than they averaged through the first seven games.
The Utes subbed the speedy Louks for Johnson a few times to keep the Rams (3-4, 1-2) off guard and Louks capitalized by taking two option keepers for touchdowns, including a 69-yard, zig-zagging run that put Utah up 49-16 with 9:30 left to play.
"We were hitting them from all different angles," Johnson said. "They had to guess who was carrying the ball and what we were trying to do with it."
The Utes have been 8-0 only three other times -- 1930, when they were perfect in an eight-game season, 1994, and the unbeaten team of 2004. The Utes went 12-0 that season, becoming the first team from a non-BCS conference to make one of the top four bowl games.
As long as the Utes stay unbeaten, they will have a chance at getting back to the BCS.
"Every week is getting bigger and bigger for us," said defensive end Paul Kruger, who had seven tackles and tipped the ball on an interception for the Utes in the third quarter. "We've been confident all year. We want this so bad so every game has been a huge thing for us."
Utah is off until playing at New Mexico on Nov. 1 and heads into the bye week with its best offensive game of the season. The Utes' previous high for offense was 461 yards against Utah State on Sept. 13 and they topped that by 88 on Saturday.
"We had total focus and concentration for the entire game," said Johnson, who completed his first eight passes and finished 18-for-26 for 185 yards with one interception. "When we do that we have a chance to be a very good offense and hopefully this will be a springboard for the final four games of the season."
Jason Smith kicked three field goals for Colorado State, including a 52-yarder that made it 28-16 midway through the third quarter. Gartrell Johnson ran for 95 yards on 20 carries for Colorado State and Billy Farris was 19-for-33 for 166 yards with a touchdown.
"We came in here and played a very, very good football team. We hung in there in the first half," Colorado State coach Steve Fairchild said. "In the end we just didn't make enough plays and it got out of hand there a little bit in the second half."
The Rams were driving in the third quarter, but Chaz Walker intercepted a pass that Kruger tipped as Farris threw it and Utah got the ball at its own 49-yard line. A few plays later, Louks ran up the middle for a 21-yard touchdown to put Utah up 35-16 with 2:20 left in the third quarter.
Brooks added another score when he leaped over the goal line at the end of his reverse in the opening minute of the fourth quarter, then Louks capped the scoring with the run of the day.
Utah was at its own 31 and Louks kept it on the option, breaking free and heading for his own sideline. Colorado State just about had him inside the 25 yard line, but Louks cut back across the field and outran the Rams to the end zone.
"That was a long one. I was a little winded after that," said Louks, who missed two games after separating his right shoulder in the season opener at Michigan.
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