Fresno State Football

Fresno State football beaten, bruised again in 59-27 loss at Utah

Utah quarterback Travis Wilson scanned the field at Fresno State's defense, but he already knew.

For a big play, all he had to do was attack the cornerbacks.

The Bulldogs' glaring weakness from a year ago has continued to haunt them this season and exposed a defensive unit that was supposed to anchor the team.

On top of that, the Bulldogs offense failed to generate a single first down through five drives and an entire quarter.

The offense would shape up some as the game progressed. The defense did not.

It all added up to another Fresno State thrashing as Utah locked up a 59-27 victory Saturday before a sellout crowd of 45,864 at Rice-Eccles Stadium.

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In just 2½ quarters, Wilson threw for a career-high five touchdowns.

"We knew our wide receivers were better than their defensive backs, and it definitely showed," Wilson said. "Our guys got open pretty easily, got space away from the defenders.

"I know those guys were always a threat on the outside. I know Fresno's defense was trying to eliminate the deep ball, but I knew we had some good matchups."

Live blog replay: Utah 59, Fresno State 27

How bad has the Bulldogs defense been?

After opening the season with a 52-13 loss at USC, Fresno State (0-2) has allowed 50-plus points in back-to-back games for only the third time in school history and first time since 1970. The 111 points allowed are the most in a two-game stretch since the Bulldogs gave up 116 in 1926.

Utah amassed 526 yards, 258 on the ground and 268 in the air, behind another no-huddle, spread offense like the one the Bulldogs struggled against last week.

Fresno State's secondary gave up explosive plays of at least 20 or more yards six times as Utah's targets often were left wide open or faced little resistance after making a catch -- like when Wilson connected with Dres Anderson for 41 yards on Utah's first play from scrimmage or when Wilson hit Anderson for a 38-yard touchdown against cornerback Curtis Riley for a 17-0 lead.

There also was Wilson's 24-yard touchdown strike to a wide-open Westlee Tonga in the end zone that extended Utah's lead to 24-0, as well as a 36-yard touchdown pass to Kenneth Scott with the Utes receiver gaining several yards after the catch when cornerback Bryan Harper missed an open-field tackle.

The Utes' second team got into the act, too, when quarterback Kendal Thompson connected with Andrew Lewis for a 45-yard touchdown. Again, Harper, a transfer from Arizona, whiffed at the tackle and Lewis scampered into the end zone.

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"The missed tackles and the poor technique, that's horrible," Bulldogs defensive coordinator Nick Toth said. "They really kept us out of sync, 'cause we felt we were getting into a groove ... and then we miss a tackle, blow a fundamental technique and that's why they're wide open."

While Fresno State's defense struggled to get off the field, the offense did them no favors by quickly putting the unit back on the field with drives that went nowhere.

With junior Brian Burrell starting and in for the Bulldogs' first five drives, Fresno State went three-and-out each time and gained a total of 4 yards.

By the time senior Connette entered, the Bulldogs once again trailed 17-0. Last week at USC, Connette subbed in with the Bulldogs down 24-0.

The Duke transfer immediately jolted the Bulldogs, helping Fresno State pick up its first first down with 14:23 left in the second quarter and driving 55 yards before turning it over on downs at the Utah 25.

Connette finished 16 of 24 for 177 yards and one touchdown, a 2-yard pass to fullback Malique Micenheimer for the Bulldogs' first points.

Connette left the game after a shot to his ribs in the third quarter, and Burrell came back in against Utah's reserves.

Burrell finished 8 of 16 for 106 yards and two touchdowns, connecting with inside receiver Greg Watson from 42 and 4 yards for scores.

Bulldogs coach Tim DeRuyter said he would've stuck with Connette for the fourth had he not sustained injury. Connette, who also had his throwing hand wrapped in ice after the game from a hit in the first quarter, said the injuries won't prevent him from missing any time.

Fresno State plays its home opener Saturday against No. 19 Nebraska (2-0).

"I don't care whether we won or lost -- we haven't played well," DeRuyter said. "We knew it was going to be a difficult slate coming in. It is what it is. We're going to keep fighting through it."

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