Paul Kruger and the Utah football team will play in the Poinsettia Bowl.
Dec. 10, 2007
> Utah (8-4, 5-3 MWC) will play Navy (8-4) in the third-annual San Diego County Credit Union Poinsettia Bowl on Thu., Dec. 20. The game kicks off the 2007-08 bowl season and will be televised nationally on ESPN. Game time is 6 p.m. PST (7 p.m. MST) in Qualcomm Stadium.
> Utah is playing in its fifth-straight bowl game and the third under head coach Kyle Whittingham. Whittingham is 2-0 in bowl games, with wins over Georgia Tech in 2005 and Tulsa in 2006.
> Utah's all-time bowl record is 9-3. The Utes have the second-longest current bowl win streak in the nation, with six straight wins dating back to 1999. Teams to fall to the Utes during the streak: Fresno State (1999), USC (2001), Southern Miss (2003), Pittsburgh (2005, 2004 season), Georgia Tech (2005) and Tulsa (2006).
> Utah has won seven of its last eight games, coinciding with the return of quarterback Brian Johnson to the starting lineup from an injury.
> Utah has never played Navy in football.
> Utah is 15-14-2 all-time in games played at neutral sites.
> Junior punter-kicker Louie Sakoda has been named a 2007 first-team All-America punter by the Football Writers Association of America (FWAA) and CBSSports.com. He was a first-team All-America place-kicker by Rivals.com. Sakoda becomes the first Ute punter ever to win first-team All-America honors and the first place kicker to do so since Marv Bateman in 1970. Sakoda was also named the Mountain West Conference Special Teams Player of the Year for the second straight year.
NO PASSING ZONE
Utah ranks No. 2 in the nation in pass efficiency defense (94.5), No. 3 in scoring defense (15.5) and No. 15 in pass defense (189.4). In addition, the Utes rank No. 7 nationally in opponent third down conversion percentage (28.8%) and are tied 14th in sacks (36). The Utes led the MWC in all of those categories.
UTAH BOWL BITS
Utah has been designated as the visiting team for the San Diego County Credit Union Poinsettia Bowl ... The San Diego County Credit Union Poinsettia Bowl marks Utah's 13th postseason appearance and its 11th since 1992 ... Utah is 2-1 in bowl games played in the state of California, losing to USC (28-21) in the 1993 Freedom Bowl, beating Arizona (16-13) in the 1994 Freedom Bowl and beating Georgia Tech in the 2005 Emerald Bowl ... Utah's first bowl appearance was the 1939 Sun Bowl.
Kyle Whittingham is 23-14 in his third year as Utah's head coach and has won seven or more games all three years. He is 2-0 in bowl games with wins over Georgia Tech (2005) and Tulsa (2006). This is Whittngham's 14th season on the Ute staff: He spent 11 years as an assistant coach (defensive line coach in 2004 and defensive coordinator from 1995-2004), before accepting the head job on Dec. 8, 2004. A month after his appointment, he served as the co-head coach in Utah's 35-7 Fiesta Bowl victory over Pittsburgh - capping a 12-0 season.
SAKODA LEADS ALL-MWC UTES
All-America junior punter/kicker Louie Sakoda was selected as the Mountain West Conference Special Teams Player of the Year for the second straight year by the league's head coaches and a media panel. Sakoda was also named the MWC's first-team punter and second-team kicker. Joining Sakoda on the first team were senior defensive lineman Martail Burnett and senior defensive back Steve Tate. Second-team honors went to RB Darrell Mack, OL Robert Conley, OL Zane Beadles, DL Gabe Long, DB Brice McCain, PK Sakoda and RET Derrek Richards. Honorable mention picks: DB Robert Johnson, DL Paul Kruger and LB Stevenson Sylvester.