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Utah St. to Visit Struggling Utah

Utah St. to Visit Struggling Utah



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By DOUG ALDEN
AP Sports Writer

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) -- Utah State is winless and Utah is better off only by one game.

Any rivalry the two schools have is secondary to a desperate need for victory Saturday when the Aggies visit the Utes.

"We don't have anything to lose," Utah quarterback Brian Johnson said. "They definitely don't have anything to lose."

They've both lost enough.

Utah (1-3) is coming off a 28-0 loss at UNLV, getting shut out by a team that had only one victory in the all-time series. Utah State (0-4) hasn't won in almost a year, losing 10 straight since a 13-12 win over Fresno State last Oct. 7.

Both teams need a win this week because next week will be even more difficult. The Aggies travel to No. 19 Hawaii, and the Utes visit Louisville.

Utah's only win this season was a stunner over then-No. 11 UCLA, 44-6, two weeks ago in Salt Lake City. A week later, the Utes bumbled their way through four turnovers and failed to score for the first time since the 1993 season opener.

"We make it harder than it should be," Utah coach Kyle Whittingham said. "If everything has to be perfect for us to be passionate and energetic then we've got major issues because we've got to be tough enough mentally to fight through those issues."

Johnson will be starting for the first time since separating his throwing shoulder in the season opener at Oregon State on Aug. 30. He missed the next two games, then returned for the second half at UNLV last week.

Whittingham and his staff were hoping Johnson could energize the Utes, who were trailing 13-0 at halftime. It didn't work.

Johnson has had a week of practicing with the first team and restoring his timing. He also expects to have more strength in his arm than he did last week.

"We've got to find a way to battle back. That's the bottom line. We've got to find a way to get the guys going and get a win this weekend," Johnson said. "It's just completely unacceptable and that's not what we're about here."

Utah State's problem has been keeping a lead.

The Aggies were ahead in the fourth quarter in three of their four games. A 54-3 loss at No. 3 Oklahoma was the only time they didn't have a chance.

Last week, San Jose State rallied with a touchdown with 53 seconds left to take a 23-20 lead. Utah State still had time to get within field-goal range or even score a touchdown, but the Aggies didn't catch the kickoff when it bounced at midfield.

The Spartans recovered the ball and ran out the clock.

The Aggies allowed a touchdown with 1:02 left in a 23-16 loss to UNLV in the season opener and also led in the fourth quarter against Wyoming before losing 32-18.

Utah State coach Brent Guy said the Aggies are trying to remain positive, despite the repeated heartache.

"It's going to go our way. I really believe it and the kids do," Guy said. "It's just hard that we're three plays away from being 3-1. ... We didn't make those three plays and we're 0-4. We've got to get ourselves back in those situations and do it."

Utah State has lost nine straight in the series, which dates back to 1892.

(Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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