TEMPE, Arizona (Ticker) -- Urban Meyer capped his career at No. 6 Utah with a resounding victory.
Alex Smith threw four touchdown passes and the Utah defense recorded a Fiesta Bowl-record nine sacks as the Utes dominated No. 20 Pittsburgh, 35-7.
Under Meyer, the Utes (12-0) became the first team from one of the five "Coalition" conferences to earn a berth in one of the four lucrative BCS bowls.
Meyer took Florida's coaching job on December 4 but was allowed to coach Utah in the bowl game.
"This is a very emotional night, it was almost breathtaking," Meyer admitted. "It was a tough locker room saying goodbye to 18 seniors who played their hearts out and passing the reins to the next coach. It was a great game against a great team and I told our players, the people can take a lot from you but no one can take the fact that you are 12-0."
The impending departure of their coach seemed to have little effect on the Utes as they rolled up 463 yards and held the Panthers scoreless in the first half for the first time in 34 games.
Utah opened a 14-0 lead at the half after scoring a TD in each of the first two quarters. Quinton Ganther scored on a four-yard run with just over three minutes remaining in the first quarter and Smith connected with John Madsen for a six-yard score just over five minutes before the break.
"The first half was so awkward in that we had only three real possessions. That is something we are not used to," Smith said, "At halftime we didn't know how many touches we would get in the second half and we knew we had to score on the opening drive."
In the third quarter, Utah scored on all three of its possessions. Smith threw an 18-yard TD pass to Marty Johnson to make the score 21-0 and hooked up with Paris Warren on a 23-yard scoring strike.
"There were a few plays where we were dumbfounded," Pittsburgh nose tackle Vince Crochunis said. "In my five or six years here they are the best offense I have ever faced."
Pittsburgh got its only score of the game with 4:29 left in the third on a 31-yard TD pass from Tyler Palko to Greg Lee. The Utes promptly responded as Meyer reached into his offensive bag of tricks to give the Utah fans something to remember.
Smith threw a quick screen pass to the right side to Steve Savoy, who then completed a perfect hook-and-ladder play with a pitch to Warren, who raced in from 19 yards out.
"I didn't expect to be used as many times as I was but the shuttle pass was working because of the way they were playing their defense," Warren said. "The hook-and-ladder play was something me and Steve worked on in practice and the coaches actually put it in. It worked in practice and we fooled the defense like we did in the game."
Warren finished with 15 receptions, a Fiesta Bowl record, and 198 yards.
Palko completed 22-of-40 passes for 251 yards but Pittsburgh (8-4), was held scoreless in the first half of a game for the first time since September 7, 2002 against Texas A&M.
"Our front has been strong all year long," said Utah defensive coordinator Kyle Wittingham, who will take over for Meyer next season. "We have won the line of scrimmage battle virtually every game this year. They executed the game flawlessly and it was an incredible performance."
"I was not surprised how aggressive they were," Palko said. "When you have an offense like they do you can be more aggressive, just because they have a high-powered offense and if they give up a big play their offense will most likely get it back for them."
Smith was in control all night, completing 29-of-37 passes for 328 yards while adding 68 yards rushing on 15 carries. A Heisman Trophy finalist, Smith reportedly is contemplating making the jump to the NFL and said he would make a decision in about a week if he will return to Utah for his senior season.
"I told him I think the ultimate responsibility is to him and his family," Meyer said. "If it is a first rounder then I think he should go. If it is not a first rounder for sure then I think he should come back."
Pittsburgh Coach Walt Harris also coached his last game for the school. He will take over the coaching duties at Stanford.
"I really don't have a lot of feelings right now. I am kind of numb because I had hoped we would have played better, " Harris said. "I'm real proud to have had eight years at Pittsburgh. We are leaving the program, but there are lot of guys coming back so the future holds true for the Panthers."