SALT LAKE CITY -- Before the start of the 2009 season Utah cornerback Brandon Burton had this week's showdown with TCU circled on his calendar.
"I knew it was going to be a big game coming into this year and it is," said the Texas native.
The 14th ranked Utes will travel to Fort Worth to tangle with the 4th ranked Horned Frogs Saturday at 5:30 p.m. (MT) in a game that may determine the conference championship.
It's a game so big that ESPN College GameDay will broadcast their show in Fort Worth, the third time this season the show will broadcast from the site of a Mountain West Conference game.
Big games are nothing new to the Utes who have won 22 of their last 23 games. They are 7-0 all-time in games when both they and their opponent are ranked in the Associated Press poll.
Despite that kind of success in big games, which includes a shocking upset over Alabama in last years Sugar bowl, the Utes will be 20 point underdogs on Saturday.
"It kind of makes you mad a little bit," said Burton. "But we have to channel that into playing hard and playing good."
"I think it's great," said receiver and Texas native Jereme Brooks. "I like being the underdog and it's going to make the game that much funner."
The Horned Frogs are favored for a reason. Their defense led by All-American defensive end Jerry Hughes is ranked third in the country in total defense trailing just Florida and Texas. The offense, led by Quarterback Andy Dalton, is averaging 37 points per game. On special teams, the Horned Frogs have one of the most dangerous return specialists in the country, Jeremy Kerley.
"They've got excellent players and their roster is very solid from top to bottom," said Utah Head Coach Kyle Whittingham. "There isn't a weakness right now. You look at all the statistics and, essentially, they are at or near the top in all three phases."
Getting a road win against the 4th ranked team in the country seems like a daunting task but history tells us the Utes won't be intimidated. No team in the Mountain West Conference has had more success against TCU than Utah. The Utes are 3-1 against the Horned Frogs since they joined the MWC in 2005. The only loss was an overtime game played in Fort Worth in 2005.
"We're the defending champs. The championship trophy is in this building and somebody's got to take that away from us," said Whittingham. "The bottom line is we have played some good football this year as well. We're going to show up on Saturday night, line up, and see what happens."