Friday, October 10, 2003
Utah focusing on conference season
SALT LAKE CITY -- Utah's elation over beating a ranked
opponent for the first time in four years went away quickly.
Any disappointment the Utes feel about being left out of the Top
25 also is in the past. It's Mountain West Conference time.
"It's conference play. This won't be a challenge to get these
guys going this week," Utah coach Urban Meyer said. "This is all
our kids ever talk about."
The Utes (4-1, 1-0 MWC) open a stretch of six straight
conference games when they host San Diego State (3-3, 0-1) on
Saturday. Utah made an early jump in the MWC standings two weeks
ago by beating defending champion Colorado State 28-21 in Fort
"They're the defending champions and to go beat them on their
home turf was a significant win. However, I don't see anybody
making it through this conference without a defeat," Meyer said.
"There's too many good teams in this conference."
Air Force (5-1, 2-0) is the only other MWC team that hasn't lost
a league game so far.
Utah is coming off a 17-13 win over Oregon last Friday that got
the Utes some recognition by beating the No. 19-ranked Ducks.
Although Utah didn't crack the AP poll this week, the Utes did go
from zero poll points to 67 -- 21 shy of No. 25 Virginia.
"We're looking at it as we should be 5-0, but we're 4-1,"
cornerback Eric Weddle said. "We beat some good teams, but now it
Utah went 3-1 in non-conference games, beating Utah State,
California and Oregon. The only loss was to Texas A&M in a game
Utah was a late two-point conversion from tying.
But the Utes insist San Diego State, which had lost three
straight in the series before beating Utah 36-17 last year, is
bigger. Utah hasn't won a league title since tying for the MWC
championship in 1999.
"It's a lot bigger because this one actually means something,"
Utah linebacker Zach Tune said. "A conference championship is all
we care about."
Utah quarterback Brett Elliott made his first career start last
season against the Aztecs and held the job for the rest of the
season. He started the first two games of this season before
breaking his wrist late in the A&M game and hasn't played since.
Alex Smith has gone 3-0 as his replacement.
"They're a team that should be ranked," San Diego State coach
Tom Craft said. "They're on a roll. They've got outstanding
talent. They're doing a good job and they have a ton of momentum."
After opening the season 3-1, the Aztecs have lost two straight.
San Diego State lost to UCLA 20-10 two weeks ago, then last week
had a bit of a defensive meltdown against Brigham Young in a 44-36
The Aztecs did have a chance to tie it late with a touchdown and
two-point conversion, which Craft said is progress even after
allowing 418 yards to a BYU offense that has struggled.
"We've come a long way. I always look at those things," Craft
said. "We're going to start winning here when we're ready to win.
It might not be soon enough for some people. But I think as coaches
we need to put it in perspective and not go through a similar
situation at Utah."