Sept. 26, 2005
SALT LAKE CITY -
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> Utah (3-1, 1-1 MWC) wraps up its non-conference slate on Saturday, Oct. 1 with a game against North Carolina (1-2, 1-1 ACC) in Chapel Hill ... Kickoff is 1:35 p.m. EDT (11:35 a.m. MDT) in Kenan Stadium ... The game will be televised back to Salt Lake City on KJZZ.
> This is the furthest east a Utah football team has traveled for a game since 1977 when the Utes played Florida in Gainesville. North Carolina is the only ACC team the Utes have ever faced. Utah beat UNC 46-16 last year in Salt Lake City (more on the series on page 2).
> Since 2003, Utah has gone 11-1 in non-conference games, including a 4-0 record against the Pac-10. During that span, the Utes have beaten Utah State three times, Arizona twice, and Oregon, California, Texas A&M, North Carolina, Southern Miss and Pittsburgh once each. Utah's last non-conference loss was at Texas A&M, 28-26, in the second game of the 2003 season.
> Utah avoided its first losing streak in three years last Thursday by beating Air Force 38-35. Utah hasn't had back-to-back losses since losing six straight in 2002. It also marked the first time since the series began in 1957 that Utah has won three straight from the Falcons.
> Utah opened the 2005 season with wins over Arizona and Utah State to push its school-record win streak to 18 games. It stood as the second-longest win streak in the nation behind USC until Sept. 15, when the Utes fell 23-20 in overtime at TCU.
passed for 305 yards on 21-of-29 passing, and assisted in five touchdowns, and Utah downed Air Force 38-35. Johnson threw two touchdown passes, including a 60-yard bomb to Brian Hernandez
that put the Utes up 38-21 in the third quarter, and ran for three more. Trailing 14-7 in the second quarter, the Utes scored three unanswered touchdowns, including two in seven seconds, and led the rest of the way. Travis LaTendresse
had a career night, catching 10 passes for 139 yards and a touchdown. Defensive career games came from Spencer Toone
(14 tackles) and Casey Evans
(12 tackles). After Air Force gained 242 first half yards, Utah gave up just 42 yards in the third quarter. But the Falcons roared back in the last four minutes of the game, scoring twice to pull within three (38-35). Their onside kick attempt with less than a minute left failed and Utah escaped with the victory.
(3-1) made history in his first game as head coach when he helped Utah break a 75-year-old school win streak record with a victory over Arizona. He and his team extended the record streak to 18 games a week later against Utah State. Named head coach 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).
Utah lost five players to the NFL draft--including No. 1 draft pick Alex Smith--after the conclusion of the best season in school history last January. Smith, who as a junior quarterback finished fourth in the Heisman voting and was the National Player of the Year by Sports Illustrated and The Sporting News, led Utah to a 12-0 record, a No. 4 Associated Press ranking and a Fiesta Bowl win over Pittsburgh. Other Utes drafted after the historic first BCS bowl game by a non-BCS-conference member were receiver Paris Warren
, offensive guard Chris Kemoeatu
, and defensive linemen Sione Pouha
and Jonathan Fanene
. Their departures, along with others, left Utah with five returning starters on offense and just four on defense. Three of the offensive starters are underclassmen, including sophomore quarterback Brian Johnson
, and four defensive starters are sophomores.
Because of the distance, Utah will depart for North Carolina on Thursday at 5 p.m. Typically, the Utes travel the day before the game ... The next victory away from Rice-Eccles Stadium will mark Utah's 200th road win ... After playing three of its first four games at home, Utah will spend three of the next four weeks on the road ... Utah's offense is best in the second quarter (51 points), followed by the third (38). Conversely, the Ute defense is best at the beginning and end, allowing 7 first quarter points and 21 in the fourth. Utah's first three opponents failed to score in the first quarter.