Dec. 9, 2003
SALT LAKE CITY -
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Below are some brief notes regarding Utah's upcoming bowl game in Memphis, Tenn., on Dec. 31. Please download the PDF file for complete notes, stats, polls, etc.
> Utah, ranked No. 25 in both polls, will play Conference USA champion Southern Mississippi (9-3, 8-0 C-USA) in the AXA Liberty Bowl in Memphis, Tenn., on Dec. 31.
> First-year Ute Head Coach Urban Meyer has been named National Coach of the Year by The Sporting News. He was also elected the Mountain West Conference Coach of the Year by vote of the league's head coaches and a conference-wide media panel.
> No. 25 ranked Utah (9-2, 6-1 Mountain West Conference) is the outright conference champion for the first time since 1957, when it competed in the Skyline Conference.
> Utah's 9-2 record is tied for the second-most wins in school history. The 1994 Utes went 10-2 and beat Arizona in the Freedom Bowl. Utah has won nine games four times: 1964 (9-2), 1994 (10-2), 1999 (9-3), 2003 (9-2).
> This is the 45th-annual Liberty Bowl. The first five games were held in Philadelphia, one game (1964) was held in Atlantic City and all games since 1965 have been played in Memphis.
> The AXA Liberty Bowl will be televised on ESPN.
UTES FINISH IN TOP 25
Utah is ranked No. 25 in both the Associated Press and ESPN/USA Today Coaches polls released on Dec. 7-the final regular season rankings. Utah's upcoming Liberty Bowl opponent Southern Mississippi received votes in both polls (No. 27 ESPN/USA Today and No. 28 A.P.). It marks the second time Utah has been ranked this year and the second time the program has finished the regular season ranked in the Top 25. The 2003 Utes were ranked in both polls on Oct. 19 (No. 23 ESPN/USA Today and No. 24 A.P.) before losing to New Mexico on Oct. 25 and dropping out. The 1994 Utes finished the regular season ranked No. 12 in the Coaches and No. 14 in the A.P. polls. After beating Arizona in the Freedom Bowl, Utah moved up to No. 8 in the Coaches and No. 10 in the A.P. final polls. More information on Utah's ranking history can be found on page 10 of this release.
Utah and Southern Mississippi have never played each other in football ... Utah is 5-7 all-time against Conference USA, but all seven losses fell between 1957 and 1978. Since 1996, the Utes have gone 5-0 against C-USA teams ... Utah Head Coach Urban Meyer
has one previous experience as a head coach against a C-USA team: while the coach at Bowling Green, his team lost to South Florida ... Although home and visiting teams have not been designated, Utah will be on the west (home) sideline and wear red ... Utah and Southern Miss have played one common foe this year: USM lost to California (34-2) in Berkeley in its season-opener on Aug. 30; Utah beat Cal (31-24) in Salt Lake City on Sept. 11.