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No. 14/17 Utah (7-1, 4-0 MWC) vs. New Mexico (0-8, 0-4 MWC)
Date Saturday, Nov. 7
Time 4:00 p.m. MT
Site Salt Lake City (Rice-Eccles Stadium/45,017) QUICK HITS
> Utah (7-1, 4-0 MWC), No. 14 in the BCS standings and No. 17 in the Associated Press rankings, hosts New Mexico (0-8, 0-4 MWC) on Saturday, Nov. 7. Kickoff is 4:00 p.m. MST in Rice-Eccles Stadium. The game will be televised live on The Mtn. Radio is KALL 700 AM (kall700sports.com) and SIRIUS Satellite 161.
> With seven wins, Utah is assured of its seventh straight winning season.
> Utah has won 21 of its last 22 games and 28 of its last 30 games.
> Running back Eddie Wide (135 yards, 1 touchdown) and defensive end Koa Misi (8 tackles, 2 sacks) were named Mountain West Conference Offensive and Defensive Player of the Week, respectively, for their role in Utah's 22-10 win over Wyoming. It was the first career player of the week honor for both.
> Wide has tied a school record by rushing for 100 yards in five consecutive games. He netted a career-best 135 yards against Wyoming last week to become just the fourth player in the school's 116-year football history to rush for 100 yards in five straight games.
> With seven wins, head coach Kyle Whittingham is assured of his fifth winning season in as many years. He becomes the second coach in school history and the first in 100 years to record winning seasons in his first five years. Joseph Maddock had a winning record in all six of his seasons as head coach from 1904-1909.
> True freshman Jordan Wynn made his first appearance as a Ute last Saturday, playing the entire second half against Wyoming and leading Utah to a come-from-behind 22-10 victory. Wynn replaced Terrance Cain, who is 7-1 as Utah's starter.
> The starting quarterback for this week's game against New Mexico will likely be a game-time announcement.
MOVIN' ON UP
In the latest rankings, Utah moved up in every poll. Utah is No. 14 in the latest BCS Standings (from No. 16), No. 17 in the A.P. (from No. 19), and No. 16 in the USA Today Coaches and Harris Polls (up from No. 19). The BCS standings are based on the Harris, Coaches' and the computer rankings—the latter which has the Utes at 13th this week. Utah's only loss this season was to Oregon in Eugene. Oregon is currently No. 8 in the BCS Standings and No. 7 in the A.P. rankings.
DID YOU KNOW?
Utah is 2-2 against New Mexico when the Utes are nationally ranked. A ranked Utah team lost to New Mexico in 1994 and 2003, and beat the Lobos in 2004 and 2008. Kyle Whittingham is 2-2 against New Mexico with the wins coming in the last two seasons. For complete series notes and last year's recap, see the boxed inset at the bottom of this page.
True freshman Jordan Wynn made his NCAA debut a memorable one, coming off the bench—and a redshirt year—in the second half to lead Utah to a come-from-behind 22-10 victory over Wyoming. Wynn led four scoring drives in the second half (two field goals andtwo touchdowns) to bring Utah back from a 10-3 deficit. He replaced starter Terrance Cain, who was 10-of-13 passing for 121 yards in the first half. Eddie Wide tied the school record for consecutive 100-yard rushing games with his fifth straight century, running for a career-high 135 yards and a touchdown. The Koa Misi- led defense blanked the Cowboys in the second half—allowing just 74 total yards after the break and 51 rushing yards for the game. Misi had eight tackles, including two sacks. R.J. Stanford had an interception and two pass breakups and Justin Taplin-Ross tallied a career-best six tackles in his first start.
KYLE STYLEKyle Whittingham, the 2008 National Coach of the Year by the American Football Coaches Association (AFCA) and the Paul "Bear" Bryant awards committee, is 44-15 in his fifth year as Utah's head coach. He is 8-4 against BCS schools and 4-0 in bowl games. In his 16 years on the Utah staff—he served as the defensive coordinator from 1995-2004 and as the defensive line coach in 1994—Utah has won 70-percent percent of its games (130-56) and played in 10 bowl games (winning nine). A year ago, he led Utah to the best record (13- 0) and national ranking (No. 2 A.P.) in school history and Utah finished as the only undefeated FBS team in the NCAA. His bowl wins have come against Georgia Tech (2005), Tulsa (2006), Navy (2007) and Alabama (2009/2008 season). Whittingham has coached in both of Utah's BCS appearances, serving as the co-head coach in Utah's win over Pittsburgh in the 2005 Fiesta Bowl, and as the head coach in the victory over Alabama in the 2009 Sugar Bowl. He has coached four All-Americans at the U., including consensus picks Luther Elliss (1994), Eric Weddle (2006) and Louie Sakoda (2008). Sakoda was also a first-team All- American in 2007, while Morgan Scalley earned second-team honors in 2004.
UTAH 'S AL-TIME RECORD
Utah's all-time football record is 602- 418-31. The Utes are 369-173-16 at home (51-16 in Rice-Eccles Stadium, which opened in 1998), 216-231-13 in road games and 17-14-2 in games played at neutral sites. UTAH VS. THE MWC
The Utes are 233-132-10 all-time against Mountain West Conference schools. The breakdown follows: Air Force 12-14, Brigham Young 53-33-4, Colorado State 54-22-2, New Mexico 31-17-2, San Diego State 15-12-1, TCU 5-1, UNLV 13-2, Wyoming 50-31-1.
OUTSIDE THE LINES
While Utah's string of consecutive sellouts ended at nine games last week (44,837 in attendance fell 180 short of a sellout), the Utes are still over-selling their stadium for the season, averaging 45,222 fans. Rice-Eccles Stadium seats 45,017. INSIDE THE HUDDLE
Shaky Smithson is now a full-time running back, playing behind Eddie Wide and Sausan Shakerin … Justin Taplin-Ross got his first career start last week in place of the injured Joe Dale. Taplin-Ross logged a career-high six tackles … Returning to action from injuries last Saturday were defensive tackles Lei Talamaivao (leg) and Kenape Eliapo (eye), and offensive guard Walter Watts … Four true freshmen have played for the Utes: Sam Brenner (8 games), Victor Spikes (5 games), Chase Maires (3 games) and Jordan Wynn (1 game). OFENSIVE ELIPSES
Utah's best quarter is the fourth, when the Utes have their most points (63) and have allowed the fewest (20) … Utah is 3-1 in games when the opponent scores first and 2-1 when trailing entering the fourth quarter … Utah ranks in the top three in the league in scoring offense (27.1), rushing offense (178.9) and total offense (393.1).
> Junior Terrance Cain, in his first year of NCAA ball, is 7-1 as the starter. True freshman Jordan Wynn replaced him at halftime against Wyoming last Saturday. Prior to that, Cain had taken every snap in the first 30 quarters of the season.
> Cain and Wynn are listed as co-starters this week.
> Cain is third in the MWC and 37th nationally in pass efficiency (140.1), completing 64.0 percent of his passes for an average of 203.0 yards per game.
> Cain ranks fourth in the Mountain West Conference and 38th in the nation in total offense (238.6 yards per game).
> Cain has accounted for 13 touchdowns this season, 11 passing and two rushing.
> Cain has four 200-yard passing games, including a season-high 286 yards in the opener against Utah State.
> Cain is the team's third-leading rusher, netting 285 yards on 82 carries (3.5 average).
> Cain had a season-high 71 rushing yards on 15 carries against Colorado State. He had a season-high 319 yards of total offense in that game.
> Wynn got his first action of the season in the second half of last week's game with Wyoming and directed the offense to four scores (two touchdowns and two field goals) in Utah's comeback win.
> Wynn completed 9-of-14 passes (64.3%) for 82 yards and a 22- yard touchdown pass (his longest play). He also had one rush for two yards.
> Wynn, who joined the team in January after graduating from Oceanside High School (Oceanside, Calif.) early, completed his first four college passes.
TRUE U FRESHMAN QBS
By coming out of a redshirt year last Saturday against Wyoming, Jordan Wynn kept alive a recent tradition of Ute quarterbacks playing as true freshmen. Alex Smith (2002), Brian Johnson (2004) and Corbin Louks (2007) all played as true freshmen. If Wynn gets the starting nod against New Mexico, he'll become just the third true freshman to start a game at quarterback for Utah since the NCAA restored freshman eligibility in 1972. Ken Vierra started two games in 1981 (going 2-0) and Scott Cate got one start in 1982 (a loss).
If Jordan Wynn starts a game this season, and/or continues to get playing time, here are some numbers to which his will be compared:
* True freshman Ken Vierra was 6-of-9 for 168 yards and a touchdown in a 42-0 Utah win over Northwestern in his first start in 1981, and followed that with a 14-of-19 performance for 242 yards and a touchdown in a 38-10 win over UTEP.
* In 1982, true freshman Scott Cate was 8-for-21 for 140 yards and a touchdown in a 21-17 Utah loss to San Diego State.
* Alex Smith and Brian Johnson, who played but did not start as true freshmen, went on to become the winningest quarterbacks in school history.
* Smith played in two games as a freshman. He finished his Ute career with a 21-1 record and became the NFL's No. 1 draft pick.
* Johnson, who played in 10 games as a freshman playing behind Smith, went on to set the school record for career wins with a 26-7 mark and become the MVP of the 2009 Sugar Bowl.
RUNNING BACK NOTEBOK
> Junior Eddie Wide tied the school record for consecutive 100- yard rushing games last week when he reached the milestone for the fifth straight game. Wide, who ran for a career-best 135 yards against Wyoming, became just the fourth player in the school's 116- year football history to produce five straight 100-yard games.
> Wide has played in all eight games, starting five, and is averaging 117.0 yards in league games (first in the MWC) and 83.0 ypg overall (second in the MWC).
> Wide averages 6.0 yards per carry overall (best among MWC rushers with more than 65 carries) and 6.2 yards per rush in league play (first in the MWC).
> Wide leads Utah in rushing touchdowns with six and has one TD reception. His seven total touchdowns is tied for third in the league.
> In the last five games, Wide has averaged 119.4 yards rushing, toting the ball 95 times for 597 yards (6.2 yards per carry).
> Wide has five 100-yard games this season and in his career: 135 vs. Wyoming, 129 vs. Louisville, 121 vs. Air Force, 111 vs. UNLV and 101 vs. Colorado State.
> Wide also has eight receptions for 45 yards and a touchdown. > Wide replaced Matt Asiata as Utah's starting running back when Asiata suffered a season-ending knee injury in the fourth game. Asiata finished the year with an 82.5 yard-per-game rushing average and four touchdowns.
> Backup Sausan Shakerin (pronounced saw-sawn shah-care- EEN) has played in five games, including the last three after coming back from wrist and shoulder injuries. "Shak" has seven rushes for 49 yards (7.0 yards per carry).
> Shaky Smithson, who started the year as a receiver before subbing in at running back when Asiata was injured, is now a full-time running back. Smithson has seven rushes for 43 yards (6.1 average). Smithson has not played in the last three games (two because of an ankle injury).
> Receivers Luke Matthews (5 rushes, 30 yards, 6.0 average) and DeVonte Christopher (4 rushes, 18 yards, 4.5 average) have been utilized in special package of plays at running back.
> Christopher had his first career carries on direct snaps against Wyoming. The former quarterback also completed his only pass attempt for eight yards.
> Senior David Reed ranks second in the MWC and 16th in the nation in receiving yards per game, averaging 94.2 yards. He is tied for second in the league and 22nd nationally in receptions per game (6.50).
> Reed leads the Utes in every receiving category, including receptions (52), yards (754), yards per catch (14.5), touchdowns (tied with 4) and long (90 yards).
> Reed is on target to challenge for Utah's season reception record. The school mark is 80 receptions by Paris Warren in 2004. At his current pace (6.5 per game), Reed would have 78 catches prior to a bowl game.
> Reed's 90-yard touchdown catch against Air Force is the secondlongest pass play in Utah history and the longest since 1976.
> Reed has 10 TD receptions in his two years at Utah.
> Reed has three 100-yard games this season and in his career: 172 vs. Utah State, 149 vs. Air Force and 140 yards vs. Colorado State.
> Reed, who also has three rushes for 18 yards and seven kickoff returns for 151 yards, ranks fourth in the league in all-purpose yards (115.4 per game).
> Junior Jereme Brooks ranks ninth in the conference in both receptions per game (3.75) and in receiving yards per game (44.1). He is tied for the team lead with four touchdown catches.
> Brooks had a career-high 98 yards on five catches against San Jose State, including a 51-yard touchdown reception.
> Coming on strong of late has been redshirt freshman Luke Matthews (5 catches, 55 yards), who is now a co-starter with Aiona Key (11 receptions, 109 yards, 1 TD).
> Five receivers have started a game for Utah this year: Reed (8 games), Brooks (8 games), Key (7 games), John Peel (3 games) and Matthews (1 game).
TIGHT END NOTEBOOK
> Kendrick Moeai, Chris Joppru, Brad Clifford and Ben Hendy have all seen time at tight end.
> Moeai has three starts and Joppru has two.
> Hendy (4 receptions, 28 yards), Moeai (1 catch, 22 yards) and Clifford (1 catch, minus 2 yards) have caught passes this season.
> Hendy has the best game by a tight end this season with three receptions for 27 yards and a touchdown against UNLV. They were the first catches of his Ute career. OFFENSIVE LINE NOTEBOOK
> Senior All-America candidate Zane Beadles, a four-year starter and 2008 first-team all-conference left tackle, has been named one of 10 finalists for the Lowe's Senior Class Award.
> Beadles has "won" 436 of his 500 total plays for a team-best 87% overall grade. He has 14 cuts and eight pancake blocks (three vs. Air Force).
> Beadles had the highest overall grade in a game by a Ute this year. He won 93% of his plays against Colorado State (67-of-72). He received a 91% grade against Wyoming (62-of-68).
> Junior center Zane Taylor, honorable mention all-MWC a year ago, leads Utah in cuts (22) and pancakes (12). He had a season-high seven cuts against Colorado State.
> Taylor has snapped the ball 538 times. > Sophomore first-year starting right tackle Tony Bergstrom leads the Ute offensive line in total plays (545).
> Junior Caleb Schlauderaff ranks second on the team in cuts (20) and pancakes (9), despite playing just 11 snaps against San Jose State due to a knee injury.
> At right guard, Tevita Stevens (399 plays) has been the full-time starter since Walter Watts (203 plays) has been out with an injury. Watts missed three games with a knee injury, but returned to split downs with Stevens last week.
> Three players have started at right guard this season: Stevens (5 starts), Watts (2 starts) and Daniel Bukarau (1 start).
> True freshman Sam Brenner has 39 plays. Bukarau and Tyler Williams have played one snap each, with Bukarau's coming on the first play of the UNLV game.
Utah ranks in the top 10 in the nation in two defensive categories this week: No. 5 in opponent third down conversions (27.8% on 32-of-115 attempts) and No. 7 in pass defense (159.2). Utah is also ranked 13th in pass defense efficiency (98.4). The Utes are in the nation's top 25 in scoring defense (No. 17, 16.8) and total defense (No. 17, 295.0), while ranking third in the league in both categories.
DEFENSIVE LINE NOTEBOOK
> Preseason all-conference defensive end Koa Misi is tied for the team tackle lead with 49. Misi has started the last seven games after missing the opener with a back problem.
> Misi has more tackles than any defensive lineman in the league.
> Misi's 7.0 tackles per game average leads Utah and ranks 12th in the conference.
> Misi, who counted two sacks among his team-leading eight stops against Wyoming last week, has 6.0 tackles for loss and 3.5 total sacks. His 0.50 sack average ties him for fifth in the MWC.
> Misi is tied for second in the MWC in fumbles (2) and in fumbles caused per game (0.29).
> Misi was named the MWC Defensive Player of the Week on Nov. 2 for his eight-tackle, two-sack game against Wyoming. Six of his tackles and both sacks came during Utah's second-half shutout of the Cowboys.
> Starting left end Derrick Shelby leads Utah and is ninth in the MWC in tackles for loss (7.5) and tackles for loss average (0.94).
> Shelby has 37 total tackle, 2.5 sacks and a forced fumble..
> Key backups at end are Nai Fotu (13 tackles, 2.0 TFL, 1 sack, 1 forced fumble) and Christian Cox (14 tackles, 5.0 TFL, 3.5 sacks, 3 pass breakups, 1 interception). > Cox is tied for the team lead in sacks (3.5) and he is tied for ninth in the MWC in sack average (0.44). Over a third of his tackles (5-of-14) have been for a loss.
> Senior nose tackle Kenape Eliapo returned from a one-game absence (eye ailment) last week against Wyoming and he is listed as the costarter for Saturday's game. He started the first six games.
> Also back in action is tackle Lei Talamaivao. The sophomore started in the first four games, then missed three games with a broken fibula before coming off the bench last week and tallying two tackles against Wyoming.
> Talamaivao joins Sealver Siliga as co-starters on the depth chart this week. Siliga has started the last four games.
> Siliga has 31 tackles (including a career-high 11 stops against Air Force), 6.5 tackles for loss (second on the team) and three pass breakups.
> Redshirt freshman Dave Kruger made his second straight start against Wyoming in place of the injured Eliapo.
> Kruger has 21 tackles (13 in his starting debut against Air Force), 3.5 tackles for loss, 1.5 sacks, a forced fumble and a fumble recovery.
> All-America candidate and preseason all-MWC linebacker Stevenson Sylvester is tied for the team tackle lead with 49. He also has 2.5 tackles for loss and a pass breakup.
> Sylvester made a season-high 13 tackles against Air Force, including an assisted tackle on fourth down in overtime to preserve a Ute victory.
> Second-year starting middle linebacker Mike Wright, who led the Utes in tackles a year ago with 81, is currently third on the team with 47 stops.
> Wright's two interceptions ranks second on the team.
> Stud linebacker Kepa Gaison has 33 tackles (3.5 for loss, 1.5 sacks) and a pass breakup on the year.
> Gaison has played in all eight games, starting six. Utah went with five defensive backs at the start of the UNLV and Wyoming games.
> Four backups are also seeing significant minutes, including J.J. Williams (12 tackles), who started against Air Force. Others are Matt Martinez (5 tackles), Chaz Walker (5 tackles) and Chad Manis (1 tackle—a TFL).
> Robert Johnson, a three-year starting free safety and preseason allconference pick, is tied for fifth in the nation in interceptions per game (0.62) and total interceptions (5). He leads the MWC in both categories.
> Johnson has 12 career interceptions, which is tied for ninth all-time at Utah.
> Johnson is tied for fifth in the league in total passes defended (7) and ranks sixth in passes defended average (0.88). He has five interceptions and two pass breakups.
> Johnson is fourth on the team in total tackles with 44 stops. He has 4.0 TFL.
> Johnson has the best single-game tackle total by a Ute this year, collecting a career-high 15 stops against Air Force.
> Johnson was the Oct. 12 MWC Defensive Player of the Week after picking off three interceptions against Colorado State.
> Johnson is tied for second in the MWC in fumbles recovered average (0.25). He has two fumble recoveries for the year—a total that does not include a fumble recovery that he returned 64 yards for a touchdown against CSU. The play went to Christian Cox, who intercepted a pass and then fumbled. Johnson grabbed the loose ball and ran 64 yards for a touchdown. > Johnson has scored two touchdowns this season—one against Oregon on a 28-yard fumble return and the other against UNLV on a play that was ruled an interception return.
> Strong safety Joe Dale missed three quarters of Utah's game against UNLV and all of last two games with a knee injury. He will begin running this week, and if he is cleared to play, he will resume his starting post.
> Dale, a two-year starter has 27 tackles with 3.5 tackles for loss and one sack.
> Cornerback Lamar Chapman replaced Dale at strong safety against Air Force and Justin Taplin-Ross filled in last week against Wyoming. Chapman got his second straight start, this time at nickel back, against Wyoming.
> Chapman has 29 tackles, two TFL and two pass breakups..
> Taplin-Ross has 19 tackles (a career-high six stops against Wyoming), three pass breakups, a fumble recovery and a half sack.
> Senior corner R.J. Stanford is tied for the Utah lead in pass breakups with seven. His eight passes defended (7 PBU, 1 INT) is tied for second in the league, as is his 1.00 passes defended per game average
> Stanford has 30 total tackles and is coming off a big game against Wyoming, when he finished with five tackles (one TFL), two pass breakups and his first career interception.
> Sophomore corner Brandon Burton is tied for the team lead in pass breakups with seven. He is tied for sixth in the league in passes defended per game (0.88).
> Burton has 27 tackles and two TFL (one sack).
> Burton has started in seven of Utah's eight games, coming off the bench against Air Force when the Utes started four linebackers.
SPECIAL TEAMS SPECIALTIES
Utah leads the MWC in kickoff coverage (47.1) … The Utes have blocked three kicks (two punts and a field goal). Batting down a punt by Utah State was Matt Martinez, while the team was credited with a blocked punt against Oregon. R.J. Stanford blocked a Louisville field goal attempt.
SPECIAL TEAMS NOTEBOOK
> First-year placekicker Joe Phillips leads the league with a 90.9 field goal percentage. He is 10-of-11overall and 3-of-4 from 40-plus yards (his only miss a 43-yard attempt against Wyoming).
> Phillips made a career-long 48-yard field goal in Utah's win over Louisville.
> Phillips is 19-of-20 in PATs.
> Senior Ben Vroman is in his fourth year as Utah's kickoff man. He has handled all 43 kickoffs this season, with 20 touchbacks (third nationally). He averages 68.1 yards per kickoff.
> Vroman's best game this year was against Wyoming, when he had six touchbacks on six kickoffs and averaged 70.0 yards per kickoff.
> For his career, Vroman has 111 touchbacks on 283 kickoffs (39.2%).
> Vroman served as the placekicker early in the season, making 5-of-5 PATs and 1-of-4 field goals. Two of his missed field goals were from 50- plus yards. His make was a 44-yarder on his first career attempt against Utah State.
> Redshirt freshman punter Sean Sellwood, the Oct. 26 MWC Special Teams Player of the Week, is averaging 42.3 yards a punt to rank sixth in the conference and 37th in the nation. Of his 40 punts, he has placed 10 inside the 20-yard line and has seven punts of 50-yards or longer.
> Sellwood averaged 48.1 yards per punt (eight punts for 385 yards) against Air Force. He placed three punts inside the 20 and had three punts of over 50 yards. He pinned Air Force at the 3-yard line with 3:44 remaining in regulation, and at the 7-yard line with 20 seconds left in regulation.
> Sellwood had a career-long 63-yard punt against Louisville.
> Redshirt freshman Luke Matthews is third in the MWC and 28th in the nation in punt return average (10.1). Matthews has 17 returns (second in the MWC) for 172 yards and a long of 38.
> DeVonte Christopher has returned kicks in the last two games and is averaging 23.9 yards in 10 returns. He is one of five Utes to try a hand a kickoff returns. Others are: Shaky Smithson (11 returns, 23.5 average), David Reed (7 returns, 21.6 average), Jereme Brooks (3 returns, 25.0 average) and Elijah Wesson (0 returns).
> Christopher has the longest kick return by a Ute this season, gaining 47 yards on his first career return against UNLV. He finished the UNLV game with four kick returns for 107 yards.
> Smithson has the most return yards by a Ute in a game this season—140 against Oregon.
"Although we haven't played our best football over the past couple of weeks, we're finding ways to win games and that's a credit to our players and assistant coaches. Our victory over a much improved Wyoming team was hard fought and keeps us in the hunt for the conference championship. "The defense played well and was the difference in the game, holding the Cowboys to 51 rushing yards and 10 points. Offensively, we had no turnovers for the first time this season and were able to move the ball, but failed to capitalize on scoring opportunities in the red zone. Running back Eddie Wide turned in another strong performance and freshman quarterback Jordan Wynn got his first opportunity to play and made the most of it, sparking the offense to 19 second half points. "Obviously, we will have plenty to work on this week as we prepare for the New Mexico Lobos. We're looking forward to playing in front of our home crowd for the third straight week. Our fans, and especially the MUSS, have been great this season and a big factor in helping us win those close games."
CAN'T TOP THIS
Utah is the only school since the inception of the BCS in 1998 to log two undefeated seasons (12-0 in 2004, 13-0 in 2008). The Utes have finished the season ranked in the Associated Press top five twice in five years: No. 4 in 2004 and No. 2 in 2008. The Utes finished No. 5 and No. 4, respectively, in the USA Today Coaches poll those years. Other top 25 national finishes by Utah teams: No. 10/8 in 1994, and No. 21/21 in 2003. A Utah coach has been named National Coach of the Year twice in the last five years: Urban Meyer in 2004 and Kyle Whittingham in 2008.
Since the BCS began in 1998, Utah has more wins against BCS schools (18) than any other team from a non-automatic qualifying conference. Non-BCS schools with the most wins against BCS teams (since 1998) follow: Utah (18), TCU (17), Navy (17), Brigham Young (15) and Fresno State (14). Utah is the only team from a non-automatic qualifying conference to be invited to play in two BCS bowl games. Utah was the original BCS Buster in 2004—beating Pittsburgh in the (2005) Fiesta Bowl. Last January, the Utes beat No. 4 Alabama in the Sugar Bowl. Along with Pitt and Alabama, some of Utah's other notable non-conference wins in recent years came against Michigan (2008), USC (2001), UCLA (2007), Georgia Tech (2005), Texas A&M (2004), Oregon (2003), Cal (2003) and Oregon State (2008). BOWL ROLL
Utah has the longest bowl win streak in the nation going— winning its last eight bowl games dating back to 1999. Ute bowl victims during the 8-0 run: Fresno State (1999), USC (2001), Southern Miss (2003), Pittsburgh (2005/2004 season), Georgia Tech (2005), Tulsa (2006), Navy (2007) and Alabama (2009/2008 season). Utah is 11-3 all-time in bowl games and its 78.6-percent postseason winning percentage is the best in the nation for teams that have played in at least 10 bowl games.
At the MWC Football Preview in Las Vegas on July 21, the league's media representatives picked Utah to finish third in the conference behind TCU and Brigham Young. The Utes received 179 points and three first-place votes, while placing five players on the preseason all-conference team. Utah's preseason all-conference honorees - all seniors - include linebacker Stevenson Sylvester (one of just three unanimous picks), offensive tackle Zane Beadles, running back Matt Asiata, defensive end Koa Misi and defensive back Robert Johnson. Beadles is Utah's only first-team returner from last year.