SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — Jordan Wynn is back, but Utah followed the same plan that was successful last season — hand the ball to John White.
"John White did his thing. That was what we wanted out of him," Utah coach Kyle Whittingham said.
White rushed for 119 yards, Wynn threw for two touchdowns and backup quarterback Travis Wilson ran for two more scores to power Utah over Northern Colorado 41-0 on Thursday night in both teams' season opener.
"I just wanted to put points on the board and they didn't come early," White said. "It was frustrating, but I knew we'd get it together and it showed at the end."
Wynn took some time to regain his form after missing the final nine games of the 2011 season due to a left shoulder injury. The Utes' first drive ended in an interception by Courtney Hall on Wynn's underthrown pass, but he recovered to complete 19 of 27 passes for 200 yards, including both TD passes to tight end Jake Murphy.
"Obviously we'd like to start a little faster on offense and a lot of that has to do with me. But we responded well and had a good second and third quarter to put them away," Wynn said.
White, who set Utah's single-season rushing record last year, carried 24 times on his way to his ninth career 100-yard game, all of which have been Utah wins.
New Utah offensive coordinator Brian Johnson, the former Ute quarterback who is the youngest OC in the FBS, showed more spread formations but essentially ran the ball like his predecessor, Norm Chow.
"Listening to conversations through the headset and watching the game, you'd never know Brian was calling his first game as a coordinator. He mixed it up and called a good game," Whittingham said.
Northern Colorado, which has lost 19 of its past 20 games and was 0-11 last season, never crossed midfield and managed only 114 total yards on 50 plays.
"It was our goal to pitch a shutout and so that feels good," said defensive lineman Joe Kruger, who scored on a 24-yard interception return.
The offenses struggled before Wynn lofted a 10-yard touchdown pass to Murphy — his third reception of the drive — to get the Utes on the scoreboard early in the second quarter.
"Coach Johnson calls the plays now, and he was really confident in me coming into the game," Murphy said.
Wilson, a highly touted freshman, relieved Wynn for two plays on the Utes' second scoring drive. The 6-foot-6 QB hurdled a defender on his first run and on his next opportunity ran for a touchdown from 3 yards out. For the game, he completed both of his passes and ran for 15 yards on seven carries.
"I was really excited I got my name called to go out there and run a little bit. I got some good blocks and was able to get into the end zone," Wilson said.
Just before halftime, White scored from 5 yards on fourth down to make it 21-0.
Before Wynn and the rest of the starters exited for good, the Utes set a Rice-Eccles Stadium record with a 21-play, 91-yard drive that consumed 10:42 and culminated with a Wynn-to-Murphy 8-yard touchdown connection.
"When you have the advantage at the line of scrimmage like we did, that's exactly what you should do. And that drive was a grinder," Whittingham said.
Bears QB Seth Lobato completed 10 of 24 passes for 74 yards and was sacked twice and hurried several times. Northern Colorado rushed 24 times for just 35 yards.
"That's the deal with playing up a level. You can hang with them in the beginning, but then their depth outweighs your depth and a few of your key guys go down," Northern Colorado coach Earnest Collins said.
Junior linebacker Clarence Bumpas had his 10th straight game of double-figure tackles with 10 stops, but the Bears didn't often touch the Utah running backs until they were past the line of scrimmage, and Utah's quarterbacks were rarely pressured.
Utah improved to 35-0 all-time against schools in the current Big Sky Conference and rolled up 414 yards of total offense on the Bears.
Despite Utah's perennial defensive prowess, this game marked the Utes' first shutout victory since beating Wyoming 50-0 in 2007.