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Kyle Whittingham opened up Saturday's postgame presser with his own question: "Were you guys impressed by that?"

The media didn't have an answer, and when it was put back to him, he admitted that he didn't, either.

No. 13 Utah followed a bruising loss at USC with a 27-12 win against Oregon State but was less dominant against the Beavers than Stanford, Arizona or Washington State had been.

It was not the confidence-booster, nor the retribution, many longed for. But it was a win.

"Seven-and-one was the objective coming out tonight," Whittingham said. "That was the only thing that we were concerned about. Becoming 7-1 and remaining in first place in the Pac-12, and we were able to do that."

First-year Oregon State head coach Gary Andersen, who lured away Utah assistants Kalani Sitake and Ilaisa Tuiaki last summer, remained winless in the Pac-12, but his 2-6 Beavers showed spirit in trailing 14-6 late in the third quarter.

And Utah, favored by 26.5 points, did all of its damage in the first and fourth quarters, bookending what Whittingham called a "lull, for a long time."

Senior quarterback Travis Wilson rebounded from a four-interception outing in Los Angeles with 198 yards and one touchdown, while rushing for another. He started 9-for-10 and kept Oregon State at arm's length late with well-placed downfield shots to Kenneth Scott and Tyrone Smith.

"I definitely had a lot to prove after the performance of the USC game," said Wilson, whose 21st career win tied him with Alex Smith for second in school history.

Senior running back Devontae Booker rushed for 121 yards and a score — his fifth 100-yard tally in 2015 — and junior kicker Andy drilled two long field goals and is 12-of-13 in his past seven games.

Whittingham said the gameplan was to establish the run and capitalize on the play-action pass, and Utah wasted no time making its intentions clear.

Booker hurdled OSU corner Shawn Wilson on the opening play, Wilson lowered his shoulder into Kendall Hill after an 11-yard gain, and Utah rushed 12 for straight downs on a 75-yard touchdown march.

The sequel to that was a 90-yard series, Wilson finding an uncovered Harrison Handley on the east sideline for a 39-yard score.

But the second quarter belonged to the Beavers.

Injured freshman quarterback Seth Collins did not make the trip to Salt Lake City, and co-starter Nick Mitchell proved less the pocket-only specialist than he was expected to be, rushing for 45 yards during the first half.

Mitchell twice drove Oregon State deep into Utah territory, setting up Garrett Owens field goals from 23 and 31 yards, while the OSU defense held the Utes to two punts and a fourth-down failure. Utah entered the half leading 14-6.

Andersen said the turnaround was just a matter of his players making tackles. Overall, "our kids were, by far, in the best command with the most complex defensive scheme we had so far this year," he said. "… The alignment, the assignment, the communication."

Neither team scored in the third, the drought ended early in the fourth when Phillips kicked a 49-yarder. Wilson then capped a 59-yard drive with a 2-yard keeper for a 24-6 advantage.

The home crowd's elation was interrupted on next play from scrimmage, when OSU wideout Jordan Villamin caught a midrange pass and galloped 74 yards to the Utah 1.

A short touchdown reception by Victor Bolden that evoked Kaelin Clay's dramatic game-winner during last year's blackout game, against USC, drew the Beavers within 12. But they fizzled thereafter, and Phillips added a 45-yarder.

Whittingham was pleased with the defensive effort. "You are not going to lose a lot of games giving up only 12 points," he said.

However, he pointed out, it was the second straight game in which Utah failed to generate a turnover — its calling card during its first six contests.

"We are usually a defense that makes impact plays weekly, and we did not have any tonight," he said.

Meanwhile, Oregon State failed to capitalize on a chance to draw even closer in the second quarter, when defensive end Jashwa James tipped and dropped a short third-down pass from Wilson — who threw a pair of second-quarter picks in similar situations against USC and Cal.

Wilson settled down thereafter in what Whittingham deemed "a pretty good job."

Prokick Australia alums Tom Hackett and Nick Porebski made Melbourne proud — Hackett with three punts for 162 yards, Porebski with five for 230, and four inside the 20.

Although Utah senior linebacker Jared Norris admitted he felt the coaching connections made it an emotional game for the defense, Andersen said it was old hat for him after visiting as head coach of Utah State in 2009.

"It's great to come back, but the problem is I've come back here twice as a head coach and I'm 0-2," he said. "I'd like to come back here one day and get a victory."

No. 24 UCLA and USC both won Saturday, staying within one game of the one-loss Utes in the Pac-12 South. The Utes visit 3-4 Washington in Seattle next Saturday, kicking off at 5:30 p.m. on Fox.

Twitter: @matthew_piper —


R Utah jumps out to 14-0 lead, then scores the rest of its points in the fourth quarter.

• Devontae Booker's 121 yards rushing is his seventh 100-yard game of the season.