Posted by ESPN.com’s Graham Watson
Nov. 24, 2007.
That was the last time Utah suffered a loss and it was the only loss in a 23-game span before the Utes fell to Oregon 31-24 last weekend.
After the game and into today’s Mountain West teleconference, coach Kyle Whittingham was bombarded with questions about how his team would respond to the loss especially with a game against Louisville coming up this weekend.
“We certainly expect to bounce back,” Whittingham said. “It’s been 22 months since we’ve been in this situation. You know, we haven’t had a loss for 22 months in this program, so it’s new to a lot of our guys. We’ve got a lot of first and second-year guys that have never been in this position at Utah. Obviously, they’ve lost at other places they’ve been -- high school, JC and so forth.”
Whittingham said his team looked fine in its Monday practice and that he expects preparations for Louisville to be strong. The Cardinals are 1-1 on the season and lost a 31-27 heartbreaker to rival Kentucky last weekend. Whittingham said the talent level between Louisville and Oregon is similar, so if his team doesn’t respond, it might start a new streak -- a losing one.
The one thing Whittingham said he wasn’t concerned with was the BCS. Utah was ranked No. 18 in last week’s Associated Press poll and a win over Oregon would have put the Utes right in the hunt for the illustrious BCS bowl berth that the Utes coveted a season ago. With the loss, Utah fell out of the national rankings for the first time since last season’s preseason poll.
But Whittingham, as he’s contended since early last season and probably prior to that, said he didn’t go into the season talking about the BCS. He didn’t talk about a repeat with his team and he never made that a focus. He said doing that would have only made last week’s loss even more devastating and perhaps ruined what can still be a repeat Mountain West championship.
“The BCS has become this big monster that is consuming everybody,” Whittingham said. “I guess if you put all your eggs in that BCS basket, I don’t know if any teams do, if they do that’s a risky business. It’s very difficult, first of all, to go undefeated in this day and age. We all know that in the non-AQ conferences, that’s pretty much what you have to do. There may be a rare exception. And so, if you put all your eggs in that’s what we want to accomplish and then all of a sudden you drop a game in Week 3, 4, 5, 6, I mean, what do you do? Shut it down the rest of the year? We don’t take that approach.”