Nov. 10, 2003
SALT LAKE CITY -
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> Utah (7-2, 4-1 MWC) plays its final home game of the season on Saturday against Wyoming (4-5, 2-2 MWC). Game time is 4:30 p.m. in Rice-Eccles Stadium. Tickets are still available (581-UTIX, www.UtahUtes.com).
> If Utah wins its final two games, it will capture its first outright conference championship since 1957. A win against either Wyoming (Nov. 15) or Brigham Young (Nov. 22) will guarantee Utah a share of the MWC title.
> Saturday's game is Senior Night for the Utes, who will honor 16 seniors in a pre-game ceremony.
> Utah was 3-6 at this time last year with the same two teams remaining on its schedule (Wyoming and BYU).
> Head coach Urban Meyer is going after career win No. 25. He is 24-8 in his third year as a head coach.
FILL 'ER UP
The Utes will set a new season attendance record if they draw 27,939 fans to their final home game against Wyoming on Nov. 15. Through five games, Utah is averaging 41,512 fans a game, ahead of the current record of 39,249 set in 1999. A total of 207,561 spectators have attended Ute games in Rice-Eccles Stadium this fall. The 2003 Utes have played before the largest (46,768 vs. California) and sixth-largest (44,676 vs. Oregon) crowds in school history. Rice-Eccles Stadium seats 45,017. Here are Utah's season attendance averages since Rice-Eccles Stadium opened six years ago: 1998-39,060, 1999-39,249, 2000-39,121, 2001-34,458, 2002-35,429.
MWC BOWL SCENARIOS
The conference champion automatically receives an invitation to the AXA Liberty Bowl, which pits the conference champions from the Mountain West Conference and Conference USA against each other. The Liberty Bowl is on Wednesday, Dec. 31 at 2:30 p.m. (CST) in Memphis, Tenn. It will be televised by ESPN. The Las Vegas Bowl will take the second choice of MWC teams for a pairing with the fifth choice from the Pac-10. Las Vegas Bowl XII will be held on Wednesday, Dec. 24 at 4:30 p.m. (PST) in Las Vegas. It will be televised by ESPN. The MWC will send its third choice to the Diamond Walnut San Francisco Bowl, where it will play a team from the Big East. That bowl will be played on Wednesday, Dec. 31 at 7:30 p.m. (PST) in San Francisco and will be televised by ESPN2.
is 7-2 at Utah and 24-8 in his third year as a head coach. He is 7-1 against BCS teams with his only loss a 28-26 setback to Texas A&M. Widely considered one of the up-and-comers in the college coaching ranks, Meyer, 39, was hired by Utah on Dec. 12, 2002 after leading Bowling Green to a two-year record of 17-6. 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. Meyer is 0-0 against Wyoming.
Utah won the first triple overtime game in Mountain West Conference history on Nov. 1, beating Air Force 45-43. It was a wild finish to a game that Utah led 23-7 through three quarters, only to see Air Force tie it up 23-23 with 3:09 left in regulation. Air Force had a chance to win the game but Spencer Toone
blocked a 50-yard field goal attempt to send the game into overtime. Both teams scored touchdowns in all three overtime periods. Utah tacked on a two-point conversion in the third overtime for the win when tight end Ben Moa
threw a pass to fellow tight end Matt Hansen
. Moa had a big day, catching 5 passes for 68 yards and rushing 9 times for 26 yards and 3 touchdowns. Alex Smith
passed for 297 yards and 1 TD and rushed for 89 yards. Dave Revill
tied a career-high with 15 tackles and was named MWC Defensive Player of the Week.
SEE YA SENIORS
Sixteen seniors will be honored in a pre-game ceremony Saturday: tight end Elia Laeli
, offensive lineman Sean Souza
, defensive back Anthony White
, defensive back Shayne Scruggs
, tight end Matt Hansen
, tight end Ben Moa
, defensive lineman Lewis Powell
, quarterback Lance Rice
, defensive back Arnold Parker
, running back Brandon Warfield
, defensive lineman Josh Savage
, offensive lineman Thomas Herrion
, linebacker Ray Holdcraft
and defensive back Dave Revill
The Utes' 7-2 record becomes even more amazing when the personnel losses they have suffered are considered. They are playing without two all-conference players, a former NCAA rushing leader, a starting offensive lineman and a starting linebacker. Utah also lost its starting quarterback in the second game for four weeks. Two-time first-team all-conference defensive end Jason Kaufusi
has missed the entire season with a shoulder injury. Second-team all-conference running back Brandon Warfield
, a preseason all-conference pick and the league's leading rusher through the first seven games of 2003, has missed most of the last two games with a knee injury. His return this season is uncertain. All-America candidate Marty Johnson
was the NCAA's rushing leader (202.5 ypg) for the first two games of 2002 before a season-ending knee injury. He has missed the entire 2003 season due to an injury and a suspension. Starting offensive guard Jesse Boone
has missed all but the first three games with a foot injury. Starting linebacker Zach Tune
(suspension) is gone for the season. Utah also lost (then) starting quarterback Brett Elliott
for a month to a broken wrist and has played games without starting offensive guard Chris Kemoeatu
(injury and suspension), leading receiver Paris Warren
(suspension), starting defensive end Marquess Ledbetter
(injury) and starting PAT/field goal kicker Bryan Borreson
BY THE NUMBERS
Utah has held the ball an average of 5:22 longer per game (32:41-27:19) than its opponents ... Utah's best offensive quarter is the fourth (92 points) and its worst is the first (41 points). The top scoring opponent quarter is the second (67 points). Utah's defense is best in the first quarter, allowing just 20 points ... Utah's 282 kickoff return yards against New Mexico, which included 193 yards from Bo Nagahi
and an 89-yard return by Morgan Scalley
, was a Utah and MWC record.
THE UTE ZONE
Utah has scored on its last 19 trips inside the red zone and is scoring 84% of the time it crosses inside the 20-yard line. The Utes have scored 30 touchdowns and 7 field goals in 44 trips into the red zone. Opponents have crossed into the red zone 31 times, scoring on 26 of those occasions (18 touchdowns, 8 field goals).
The last time Utah beat Colorado State and Air Force in the same season was in 1993, when the Utes beat both teams at home ... The most MWC wins a Utah team has had in a season was 5 in 1999 (5-2). This year marks the third time Utah has won at least four MWC games (1999, 2001, 2003) ... Utah has not won an outright conference championship since 1957 when it played in the Skyline Conference. The Utes have since shared conference titles in 1964 (WAC), 1995 (WAC) and 1999 (MWC) ... Utah has appeared in the national rankings once this year: The Utes were ranked No. 24 in the Associated Press poll and No. 23 in the ESPN/USA Today Coaches poll on Oct. 19 before a loss to New Mexico on Oct. 25 dropped them out ... Utah's all-time record is 543-403-31. The Utes are 339-168-16 at home, 21-11 in Rice-Eccles Stadium (1998-on), 193-221-13 in road games and 11-14-2 in games played at neutral sites.
At 75 games, this is the third-longest series in Utah football history. Utah did not lose in the first 23 years of the series, winning 22 games and tying one from 1904-48. Utah has won three straight from the Pokes and leads the series 44-30-1. Utah holds a 27-11-1 advantage in games played in Salt Lake City.
UTAH VS. THE MWC
Utah's all-time record against current MWC teams is 196-122-10. Here's how Utah has fared against its MWC rivals: Air Force 7-13, Brigham Young 49-31-4, Colorado State 49-21-2, New Mexico 28-15-2, San Diego State 11-11-1, UNLV 8-1 and Wyoming 44-30-1.
THIS GAME LAST YEAR
rushed for 164 yards and 2 touchdowns and defensive back Kawika Casco
saved the day as time expired for a 23-18 Ute victory in Laramie. Utah scored nine unanswered points in the fourth quarter to take the lead, but Wyoming's last gasp 'Hail Mary' pass with no time left appeared to be caught in the end zone. Fortunately for Utah, Casco made a huge play by stripping the receiver of the ball for an incompletion to preserve the win. Utah trailed 18-14 entering the fourth quarter. Warfield put the Utes up 20-18 with a 49-yard TD dash with 7:37 left only to have Bryan Borreson
miss the PAT. Borreson redeemed himself six minutes later with a 30-yard field goal that put the game out of field goal range for Wyoming.
Utah and Wyoming played one common non-conference foe-Utah State-this season. Both teams beat the Aggies, Utah 40-20 and Wyoming 48-21. Against common MWC opponents, Utah is 3-0, beating Colorado State (28-21), San Diego State (27-6) and Air Force (45-43). Wyoming is 1-2, beating Colorado State (35-28) and losing to Air Force (29-35) and San Diego State (20-25).
With the loss of senior all-conference candidate Brandon Warfield
to a knee sprain, Utah's running back position now goes three deep in true freshmen. Mike Liti
(5-10, 205) is the starter. He is backed up by Joe Johnson
(5-8, 175) and Kyle Brady
(6-2, 213). Both Johnson and Brady were originally wide receivers. Only Liti has actually played this year. Against Air Force, senior tight end Ben Moa
shared time with Liti.