Aug. 29, 2005
SALT LAKE CITY -
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> Utah (0-0, 0-0 MWC) opens its 2005 season against Arizona (0-0, 0-0 Pacific 10) on Friday, Sept. 2 in an ESPN nationally-televised contest starting at 6:00 p.m. MDT. A crowd in excess of 40,000 is expected, but good seats remain. Tickets can be purchased online at www.utahtickets.com, at the Ute ticket office in Rice-Eccles Stadium, or by phone at 581-UTIX.
> Friday's game marks the debut of head coach Kyle Whittingham, who assumed the top post in December of 2004 after a decade as Utah's defensive coordinator.
> Utah has won its last 16 games--tied for the longest win streak in school history--previously set from 1928-1930. Utah's last loss was on Oct. 25, 2003 to New Mexico. Its current 16-game win streak started on Nov. 1, 2003 with a triple overtime victory over Air Force.
> Utah, which finished the 2004 season with a 12-0 record and final rankings of No. 4 and No. 5 in the Associated Press and Coaches' Polls, respectively, is noted in the Others Receiving Votes in both 2005 preseason polls. The Utes were three spots out of the top 25 in both.
> The first 10,000 fans to enter the stadium on Friday will receive a red Utah t-shirt inscribed with the slogan, "Enter the Red Zone."
was named the head football coach at Utah on Dec. 8, 2004. Whittingham has been a member of the Ute staff since 1994, when he coached the defensive line for Utah's 10-2 Freedom Bowl champion team. He was promoted to defensive coordinator a year later--a position he held until his promotion to head coach. In his 11 years as a Ute assistant, the program compiled an 86-41 record and played in six bowl games (winning five). He served as co-head coach at the 2005 Fiesta Bowl, helping to lead Utah to a 35-7 victory over Pittsburgh. The Ute defense recorded 14 top-20 statistical rankings during Whittingham's 10 years as the coordinator. Utah led the league in scoring defense in four of the last six years (placing second the other two).
At the annual Mountain West Conference Football Preview, Utah was picked by the league's media to win the MWC title for the third straight year. Utah received 18 first place votes and 246 total points to lead runner-up New Mexico (215 points and six first place votes). It marks the second straight season Utah has been picked to win the league crown. Utah's 2003 title came after a preseason fifth-place projection.
PRESEASON ALL-MWC UTES
Ute senior defensive tackle Steve Fifita
, a 2004 all-MWC first-teamer and the defensive MVP of the Fiesta Bowl, led a quartet of Utes on the preseason all-conference team. Fifita, also the media preseason pick as the MWC Defensive Player of the Year, and Ute senior linebacker Spencer Toone
were two of just three unanimous choices to the team. Also making the preseason team were senior center Jesse Boone
and junior defensive back Eric Weddle
. Boone and Weddle were second-team selections a year ago, while Toone and running back Quinton Ganther
earned honorable mention all-MWC acclaim.
Six players off last year's Fiesta Bowl champion team are currently on NFL rosters: quarterback Alex Smith
, defensive linemen Sione Pouha
and Jonathan Fanene
, offensive lineman Chris Kemoeatu
, and receivers Paris Warren
and Steve Savoy
. All but Savoy were drafted ... Utah is 3-6 all-time in ESPN games and 3-0 in the last two seasons. Utah has won its last nine nationally-televised contests (ESPN, ESPN2, ABC), dating back to a three-point loss to Michigan in the Big House in 2002 ... Friday's game marks the second straight year that Utah has opened the season on Sept. 2 in an ESPN televised game ... The MUSS, which consists of Utah's most loyal student fans, had registered almost 3,000 students by the start of classes on Aug. 24. Total season tickets number over 21,000 ... Utah has set back-to-back attendance records for Rice-Eccles Stadium home games in the last two seasons. The Utes averaged 41,478 in 2003 and 44,112 in 2004. The stadium capacity is 45,017.
UTAH'S ALL-TIME RECORD
Utah's all-time football record is now 558-403-31. The Utes are 346-168-16 at home, 28-11 in Rice-Eccles Stadium (1998-on), 199-221-13 in road games and 13-14-2 in games played at neutral sites.
Ranked from start to finish, the 2004 Utes reached unprecedented heights in a 12-0, BCS-busting season. The first team from a non-BCS conference ever to qualify for a BCS bowl, the Utes concluded the season with a 35-7 trouncing of No. 19 Pittsburgh in the Fiesta Tostitos Bowl. Including the win over Pitt, Utah blasted its four BCS opponents (Texas A&M, Arizona, North Carolina were the others) by an average of 24 points a game. The Utes, who won their second consecutive outright Mountain West Conference Championship, finished the season ranked No. 4 in the nation. Quarterback Alex Smith
, Utah's first Heisman Trophy finalist, and safety Morgan Scalley
were named the MWC offensive and defensive players of the year. Smith made several All-America teams and was the National Player of the Year by Sports Illustrated and The Sporting News. He chose to forego his senior season to enter the NFL draft and became the first No. 1 draft pick in school history. Smith and Scalley were both named to the all-conference first team, as were receiver Steve Savoy
, offensive lineman Chris Kemoeatu
and defensive linemen Sione Pouha
and Steve Fifita
UTAH VS. THE PACIFIC 10
Utah is 11-12 since 1990 against Pac 10 teams and 48-87-3 all-time. Utah's series record against the Pac 10 schools follows: Arizona 18-15-2, Arizona State 6-16, California 2-4, Oregon 8-17, Oregon State 4-8, USC 3-6, Stanford 2-3, UCLA 0-7, Washington 0-6, Washington State 5-5.