This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2009, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.
The Utah Utes have all of college football shaking its head in amazement.
Quarterback Brian Johnson, receiver Freddie Brown and a smothering defense upended the heavily favored Alabama Crimson Tide 31-17 in the Sugar Bowl on Friday night, completing a perfect season with a victory in prestigious Bowl Championship Series game for the second time in four years.
Fans clad in red roared and raised their hands in victory at the Louisiana Superdome in New Orleans as the final seconds ticked off the clock, following a dominating performance that few imagined.
The Utes scored on their first three possessions in the first quarter, beguiling the Crimson Tide defense and defying widespread expectations of what would happen to them when matched against a team that came within one victory of playing for the BCS national championship.
Alabama steadied itself and scored 17 unanswered points and cut the lead to 21-17 in the third quarter, but the Utes responded with a touchdown drive and were never threatened in the final period.
Johnson completed 27-of-41 passes for 336 yards and three touchdowns, while Brown caught 11 of the balls for 121 yards and the defense sacked Alabama's John Parker Wilson eight times and forced three turnovers. Wilson fumbled on the second to last of those sacks, and linebacker Stevenson Sylvester - who himself sacked Wilson three times - recovered the fumble with 5:13 left to all but seal it.
Just to be sure, though, kicker Louie Sakoda made a 30-yard field goal with 2:49 left to finish the scoring, and safety Robert Johnson made his second interception of the game about a minute later to end Alabama's desperation hopes of snapping Utah's eight-game bowl winning streak.
Receivers Brent Casteel, Bradon Godfrey and David Reed caught touchdown passes for the Utes, and running back Matt Asiata ran for another score. The Utes rushed for only 17 yards, but held the shorthanded Crimson Tide offense - playing without its suspended All-American tackle Andre Smith - to only 208 total yards.