'Ute Fever' heats up with downtown parade

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Team coverageThe University of Utah football team had quite a season this year. Not only did they beat Alabama in the Sugar Bowl, they were the only team in the nation to go undefeated. To cap off their perfect season, today thousands of Utahns came out to honor their team.

Downtown was a see of red this afternoon as hundreds of University of Utah fans went nuts in support of their team. During the parade, the team made their procession down State Street on their way to Washington Square.

This Utes team received some incredible accolades this year. They had the best ranking in school history, finished No. 2 in the AP poll and currently have the longest active win streak in the nation, with 14 games spanning two seasons. This season they went 13-0, the best record in school history.

On top of all that, Head Coach Kyle Whittingham has been named the AFCA National Coach of the Year, as voted by his peers. He also won the Bear Bryant National Coach of the Year award and was named Mountain West Conference Coach of the Year.

At the rally following the parade, Whittingham expressed his gratitude to his team and their fans. "First thing I'd like to say is thank you so much for showing up today. Thank you so much for your support throughout the entire season. It's been a tremendous year. We couldn't be more proud of our football team and what they've accomplished. You know where my heart is. You saw what I voted, and that's what I believe. I just can't say enough about guys and how they project themselves not only on the football field, but in their everyday lives. What a great group of guys. I'm proud to be associated with them," he said.

Utes quarterback Brian Johnson told the crowd, "This is for everybody here in Salt Lake! We wanted to bring this back home to you guys. The fans deserve it, the MUSS (Mighty Utah Student Section) deserves it; just unbelievable!"

The combination pep rally and State Street parade gave thousands had a chance to cheer their heroes up close and personal.

"Absolutely what we deserve! We should be having a No. 1 banner up there instead of No. 2," Ute fan Don Quigley said.

The folks with numbers on their jerseys were treated like conquering heroes, because, well, they did conquer the Sugar Bowl. "[It's] awesome, coming down off of New Orleans, yeah! This is kind of, yeah, this is just great! We needed this for everyone," Ute fan Karen Beams said.

A few fans waxed philosophical about a team that won national respect, if not exactly a national championship. "From day one, destiny, I think, played a bigger hand: Oregon state game, the TCU game, it was just meant to be!" Ute fan Ross Quigley said.

You can guess who this fan has been rooting for all her life: Her name is Utahna Quigley, really. "We had the greatest team this year and the greatest coach, and I'm really proud to be a Utah fan," she said.

Ute fan Laura Hernandez said, ‘They say that we're No. 2, but everybody in the whole nation knows that Utah Utes are No. 1!"

The Utes were the nation's only undefeated team, so who are we to quarrel with that logic? We're not the AP Poll, so we're not going to rain on anyone's parade.

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