John White rushed for 150 yards with two touchdowns in his major-college debut and converted linebacker Brian Blechen intercepted two passes as the Utah Utes opened with a 27-10 victory Thursday night over Montana State in Salt Lake City.
Blechen set up Utah’s first score with a 35-yard interception return, and Matt Martinez set up the second with his second career blocked punt.
The win was Utah’s first as a member of the Pac-12 Conference and helped the Utes improve to 10-0 against the Bobcats and 32-0 against Big Sky teams.
The road only gets tougher for the Utah, which opens Pac-12 play at USC next weekend before traveling to Provo for a game against BYU.
Quarterback Jordan Wynn was making his first start since December shoulder surgery that kept him out of the Las Vegas Bowl. While hardly spectacular, he managed the new pro-style offense under Norm Chow, completing 15 of 23 passes for 101 yards and two TDs, with no interceptions.
Sophomore DeNarius McGhee tossed a second-quarter TD for the Bobcats, who were without their leading rusher from a year ago and three projected offensive line starters.
Utah coach Kyle Whittingham will certainly take the victory, but knows there’s plenty of room for improvement with a wicked road ahead.
“We were running the ball pretty effectively in the first half,” Whittingham said. “Our defense did a nice job of setting up the first score, and special teams set up the second. But we’ve got to play with more urgency on offense. The tempo is too slow.”
The Utes were without starting left tackle John Cullen, who did not play because of a concussion but is expected back against the Trojans.
Utah outgained Montana State 292-258 and held a 16-12 advantage in first downs.
Arizona State 48, UC Davis 14: Brock Osweiler threw two touchdown passes to Aaron Pflugrad before leaving with leg cramps, Cameron Marshall ran for two more scores and the Wildcats opened the season with a blowout of the Aggies in Tempe, Ariz.
Arizona State dominated UC Davis from the start, rolling up 517 total yards while holding the FCS Aggies in check until the backups gave up a couple of late scores.
Osweiler was sharp in his first home start, throwing for 262 yards before limping off following a 13-yard touchdown pass to Pflugrad midway through the third quarter.
(11) Wisconsin 51, UNLV 17: Russell Wilson threw two touchdown passes and ran for another in his Wisconsin debut and Montee Ball scored four times to the 11th-ranked Badgers over the Rebels in Madison, Wis.
(20) Mississippi State 59, Memphis 14: Vick Ballard rushed for 166 yards and three touchdowns and the Bulldogs easily handled the Tigers at the Liberty Bowl in Memphis, Tenn.
Mississippi State dominated from the start, taking a 31-7 lead after gaining 405 total yards in the first half. Things slowed down a little after that, but the Bulldogs finished with a school-record 645 total yards.