Sept. 6, 2004
SALT LAKE CITY -
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Utah (1-0, 0-0 MWC) plays Arizona (1-0, 0-0 Pac 10) in Tucson, Saturday, Sept. 4. Game time is 7:00 p.m. MST in Arizona Stadium. The game will be televised live back to Salt Lake City on KJZZ starting at 8:00 p.m. MDT.
Utah shot three places in latest rankings after beating Texas A&M, 41-21, on Sept. 2. The Utes are now No. 16 in the ESPN/USA Today Coaches poll and No. 17 in the Associated Press poll.
Utah's No. 16 and 17 poll positions are its best since Jan. 3, 1994, when the Utes finished the season ranked No. 8 in the A.P. poll and No. 10 in the coaches poll.
Utah Head Coach Urban Meyer improved his coaching record against BCS schools to 8-1 with last week's win over Texas A&M. The win avenged his only loss to a BCS school: Last year Utah lost by two at Texas A&M. Meyer is 3-1 against the BCS as Utah's head coach.
Alex Smith directed six touchdown drives and Utah mauled Texas A&M, 41-21, on Sept. 2 in Rice-Eccles Stadium. Performing before an ESPN national television audience and a standing room only crowd of 45,419, Smith passed for three touchdowns and ran for two scores. The junior completed 21 of 29 passes for a career-high 359 yards and also rushed for 13 times for 76 yards. On the fourth play of the game, Smith hit Steve Savoy for a 78-yard touchdown pass. His other TD throws were to John Madsen and Jerome Wright. Paris Warren led all receivers with seven catches for a career-best 116 yards, while Savoy had five catches for 108 yards. Playing in his first game in two years, senior running back Marty Johnson led all rushers with 77 yards. Despite losing its two best strong safeties (Eric Weddle and Kawika Casco) to knee injuries early in the first quarter, the defense never allowed Texas A&M to get untracked. The Aggies finished with 437 total yards, but nearly 40-percent of those (169 yards) came in the fourth quarter when Utah substituted liberally. In his first start, senior linebacker Tommy Hackenbruck led the defense with 10 tackles.
SMITH NATIONAL PLAYER OF THE WEEK
Utah junior quarterback Alex Smith has been named The Sporting News Magazine and radio National College Football Player of the Week after leading Utah to a 41-21 win over Texas A&M on Sept. 2. He was also named the Mountain West Conference Offensive Player of the Week for the fourth time in his career. Smith passed for a career-high 359 yards, rushed for 76 yards, threw three touchdown passes, rushed for two scores and accounted for 435 of Utah's 582 total offensive yards. He completed 21 of 29 passes with no interceptions.
Urban Meyer is 11-2 in his second season at Utah and 28-8 in three years as a head coach. He is 0-0 against Arizona. After concluding the best season in Utah history in 2003, Meyer was named the MWC Coach of the Year and The Sporting News' National Coach of the Year. In July, he received the prestigious Victor Award as the 2003 College Coach of the Year. Utah finished the season ranked No. 21 in both the A.P. and ESPN/USA Today Coaches polls. Widely considered one of the up-and-comers in the college coaching ranks, his career record against BCS teams is 8-1. Meyer, 40, was hired by Utah on Dec. 12, 2002 after leading Bowling Green to a two-year record of 17-6 from 2001-02. Under Meyer, BGSU cracked the AP Top 20 after starting the 2002 season with eight straight wins. Named the Mid-American Conference Coach of the Year as a first-year head coach in 2001, Meyer went 8-3 and 9-3 in his two years at BG. His previous coaching stops included assistantships at Ohio State (graduate assistant), Illinois State, Colorado State and Notre Dame.
Utah leads Arizona 17-15-2 in the all-time series but has lost eight of the last 10, including the last two (in 2000 and 2002). Utah's most recent victory came in the 1994 Freedom Bowl. In 34 total contests, just one point separates these two schools. Utah has scored 636 total points, while Arizona has scored 637. The Utes' last regular season win over the Wildcats was in 1972 in Salt Lake City when the Utes set a school record by coming back from a 27-0 deficit to win 28-27. Utah last won in Tucson in 1967. Arizona leads 8-7-2 in Tucson. This is the second straight time the two teams have met in Tucson (last time was 2002). The Wildcats will visit Salt Lake City next season.
UTAH VS. THE PACIFIC 10
Utah is 47-87-3 all-time against the Pacific 10, but 2-0 under Meyer and 10-12 since 1990. Utah's series record against the Pac 10 schools follows: Arizona 17-15-2, 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.
LAST TIME THEY MET
A blown call in the waning seconds of the game cost Utah the tying touchdown and a chance to kick a PAT for the win against Arizona in Tucson on Sept. 14, 2002. With 0:38 remaining, Utah was on the Wildcat 11-yard line when Lance Rice hit Josh Lyman for what television replays showed was clearly a touchdown. But the official ruled Lyman was out of bounds and Arizona escaped with a 23-17 win. Bryan Borreson put Utah in position to win the game with a career-long 53-yard field goal with 4:51 on the clock. Overall, the Ute offense sputtered in its first game without injured NCAA rushing leader Marty Johnson--compiling just 32 net rushing yards and 204 total yards. Defensive end Jason Kaufusi led the defense with 11 tackles, five tackles for loss, two sacks and two forced fumbles.
Utah's all-time record in game two is 57-48-3 ... Utah's record in games played on Sept. 11 is 3-1. Utah's other previous Sept. 11 road game was also in Arizona: Utah lost to Arizona State in Tempe in 1982 ... Prior to Urban Meyer, Utah was 0-6 in ESPN nationally-televised games. The Utes are 3-0 on ESPN under Meyer ... Utah's crowd of 45,419 against Texas A&M last week was the third-largest crowd in school history and its first opening game sell-out ever ... Utah has four Arizona natives on its 2004 roster--Stephen Gordon, Thomas Huff, John Peel and Jason Voss--but only Voss, who starts for the punt team, will make the travel party for Saturday's game ... Utah's all-time football record is 547-403-31. The Utes are 341-168-16 at home, 23-11 in Rice-Eccles Stadium (1998-on), 194-221-13 in road games and 12-14-2 in games played at neutral sites.
HEAD COACH URBAN MEYER SAYS
"We'll be facing an upstart Arizona team with high energy. I expect to see a big, loud crowd cheering against us. They had 50,000 for their game last week against a 1-AA opponent. With any Pac 10 team, I worry about their athleticism. I think Mike Bell is the best tailback in the Pac 10. (Head Coach) Mike Stoops is one of the top defensive coaches in the country. We studied a lot of film on Oklahoma. I compare Arizona's defense to ours in that it is physical, aggressive and one of the better schemed defenses in the country. Offensively, there are a lot of unknowns. We are trying to figure out if they saved a lot last week.