Well, they got that out of the way. The Utah Utes laid the beat down on the Idaho State Bengals in their season opener, a guaranteed victory amongst a season guaranteeing nothing.
The 56-14 final score is indicative of how out of hand the game got. Quarterback Travis Wilson would need to play in the first half only, while Bubba Poole got only six carries.
After getting in the endzone only twice in 2013, Poole started his year off right with a 6-yard touchdown run that capped a simple 3-play, 35-yard drive that took all of 32 seconds. He would finish the night with a total of 42 yards on six carries with a touchdown; just a warm-up for what should be coming the rest of 2014.
The leading rusher for the Utes was junior running back Devontae Booker who hammered out 78 yards on the ground in just 10 touches, reaching the endzone once to start the second quarter and the other to begin the third quarter.
As a combined unit, the Utah rushing attack gain 231 yards on the ground-a collective effort from backs, receivers and even quarterbacks.
Even with the impressive showcasing from the running game, it was quarterback Travis Wilson who shone. Needing just 30 minutes of football to sling 265 yards through the air, Wilson would go 13-of-18 in addition to a 26-yard strike to Kenneth Scott with just 19 seconds remaining in the first half.
Returning from what was once believed to be a career-threatening concussion, Wilson showed no fear on his first rushing touchdown of the season, flying over a defender to put Utah up 14-7 at the time. For what should be the first time of many this season, Wilson sent the Ute faithful into frenzy.
Second half quarterbacking duties would be split between junior Kendal Thompson and freshman Brandon Cox. The latter would go 3-of-3 through the air for 17 yards, while scampering in for a 16-yard touchdown run to cap what was a 13-play, 75-yard drive at the conclusion of the contest.
If a 42-point blowout victory did not generate enough buzz, Kaelin Clay took care of the rest. The senior wide receiver from Long Beach, California, put on a show in every facet of the return game. A 46-yard punt return to the house would have been enough for most return men, but #8 went back again, this time on a 100-yard kick return. No matter the competition, returning kicks is still a difficult task, one in which the success rate is not very high. Just don't tell Kaelin Clay.
So, what can be taken out of a night in which the Utes had nearly 600 yards of offense and blew the doors off their competition? This is a team with big play potential. Travis Wilson reminded us all of his cannon of an arm that just so happens to back up his massive frame. In a Pac-12 conference that has embraced the frenetic offensive pace, Wilson will fit right in with the cavalry of gunslingers.
Where there is concern is on the defensive side of the ball. Allowing two touchdowns to a FCS opponent is not the issue, but rather not forcing any turnovers. Despite trailing virtually the length of the game, the Bengals never once came off the field having fumbled or been intercepted. Astoundingly enough, the Utes leave the game against Idaho State with a -1 in the turnover margin-which will surely need to improve against the juggernaut Pac-12 competition they have on the horizon.
With now more than a week to prepare for the Fresno State Bulldogs, the Utes will prepare for a tough non-conference challenge, even with it taking place inside the walls of Rice-Eccles Stadium.
They say in order to win many, you must first win one. Hopefully for the Utes, they will not be winning only one.