The No. 5 Stanford Cardinal's bid for a 2013 BCS championship took a major hit on Saturday evening, as the host Utah Utes pulled off a 27-21 upset victory in Salt Lake City's Rice-Eccles Stadium.
A furious Cardinal rally ended with a turnover on downs inside the Utes' 10-yard line with less than a minute left, marking Utah's first win over an AP Top Five team in program history.
In the Utes' two losses this season, quarterback Travis Wilson threw a combined nine interceptions, but he played a cleaner game in this contest, throwing for 234 yards and two touchdowns with only one pick.
Wilson was complemented well by the play of sophomore running back Bubba Poole, who not only ran for 112 yards but also had a team-high seven receptions for 75 yards.
By limiting mistakes and benefiting from Poole's tough running, Utah beat Stanford much in the way that the Cardinal are used to cutting their opponents down to size.
When Wilson hit Karl Williams for a four-yard touchdown to respond to Stanford running back Tyler Gaffney's one-yard TD plunge on the opening drive, it was an early hint that this would be a down-to-the-wire Pac-12 clash.
But for the second week in a row, Stanford receiver and return man extraordinaire Ty Montgomery took a kickoff to the house, this one to immediately answer the Utes' first scoring drive:
The only blemish of Wilson's night was an interception in the first possession of the second half, halting what was a 12-play, 61-yard drive. However, the Cardinal fumbled it away after taking over and coughed it up the next time they had the ball, too.
Stanford QB Kevin Hogan was having a subpar performance for the second week in a row, but he began to come to life in the fourth quarter when his team needed him most.
On a 3rd-and-10 from his own 48, Hogan fired a 45-yard strike to his go-to receiver, Montgomery, and followed it up with a seven-yard touchdown pass to Devon Cajuste to cut the lead to 27-21.
The combination of Hogan and Montgomery proved to be unstoppable in the final 15 minutes, as Montgomery wound up with a game-best eight catches for 131 yards. Kodi Whitfield and Cajuste were the only other Stanford players to register more than one catch—each had two.
Montgomery caught two key third-down passes on Stanford's final drive to keep its hopes alive, but the drive stalled just six yards from the end zone.
Such a draining road loss makes next week's home clash with the AP No. 11 UCLA Bruins all the more difficult for the Cardinal.