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Sports

Thomas helps No. 13 Utah rout Stanford 42-7

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — Tavion Thomas rushed for a career-high 180 yards and Cameron Rising threw for three touchdowns to lead No. 13 Utah to a 42-7 win over Stanford on Saturday night.

Utah (8-2, 6-1 Pac-12) started slow on a below-freezing night in the shadow of the Wasatch Mountains, but scored 42 straight points after trailing 7-0 to Stanford (3-7, 1-7).

Utah’s defense was suffocating after the initial score while Thomas recorded his first 100-yard rushing game since the season opener at Florida and eclipsed his previous high (177) set at Stanford last year.

Thomas, who has been in and out of the lineup with personal issues, was pressed into heavy use because of injuries in the backfield. He rushed for a four-yard TD in the second quarter and a 36-yard score in the fourth — his 28th career touchdown at Utah, moving him to third on the all-time rushing TD list.

Thomas was a 1,000-yard rusher and had 21 touchdowns last season but was away from team at times this season and missed the Washington State game. He struggled through the middle of the season but showed renewed speed and power in time for Utah’s quest for a Rose Bowl return.

Rising went 20-for-33 through the air for 219 yards with an interception to boost Utah’s home winning streak to 14.

The Utes initially struggled to execute against Stanford, which allows the most rushing yards of any team in the conference. After three fourth-down conversions, including a fake punt, Utah finally scored on a Rising-to-Devaughn Vele 9-yard TD pass in the second quarter.

After that, the floodgates opened and Utah rolled to 514 total yards with 279 on the ground. At the same time, Stanford’s entire offense failed to outgain Thomas, garnering just 177 total yards.

On Stanford’s second drive, Tanner McKee evaded the rush and threw a 51-yard pass and then snuck in for a one-yard touchdown one play later.

In the end, McKee passed for 155 yards but didn’t have much time to throw and was sacked seven times.

THE TAKEAWAY

Stanford: Without any semblance of a rushing attack — just 22 yards — the Cardinal couldn’t move the ball. Stanford’s defense forced Utah to convert four fourth downs to keep drives going but eventually wore down against the run and were exposed when Utah turned to the passing game against a stacked box.

Utah: The Ute defense looked suspect earlier this season and in this game, but dominated the second quarter by keeping Stanford without a single first down while the offense awoke. Once the Utah line controlled the line of scrimmage, the game was essentially over. Now Utah heads to Oregon in a battle in of one-loss teams.

POLL IMPLICATIONS

Oregon and Mississippi were the only teams ranked ahead of the Utes to lose, but both dropped close contests to ranked opponents so Utah has limited room to move up.

UP NEXT

Stanford visits California next Saturday afternoon.

Utah plays at Oregon next Saturday night.

___

AP college football: https://apnews.com/hub/college-football and https://twitter.com/AP_Top25 Sign up for the AP’s college football newsletter: https://apnews.com/cfbtop25

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