Defense helps Utah to 3-1 start

Updated: October 2, 2003, 4:10 PM ET

SALT LAKE CITY -- Anyone looking for video from Oregon's game against Washington State would have a hard time getting it from Ducks coach Mike Bellotti.

Bellotti wants to forget about the 55-16 embarrassment as quickly as possible.

"I told them after the game that we were going to toss this game where it belongs and that's in the garbage," Bellotti said.

Fortunately, the wait between games was shorter than it could have been for the No. 19 Ducks (4-1), who visit Utah (3-1) on Friday night. Oregon hopes to erase what happened against the Cougars, who came in to Autzen Stadium and rolled over the home team.

Just a week before, the Ducks had been celebrating after upsetting then-No. 3 Michigan 31-27, a win that pushed Oregon from No. 22 to No. 10 in The Associated Press poll.

"I think we were still living it up from the Michigan and thinking everybody was going to roll over for us. But that's not what happened," Oregon wide receiver Samie Parker said. "We've got to bounce back this week."

This may not be the best time to face the Ducks, but Utah coach Urban Meyer said it has little to do with what happened last week. Oregon's nine turnovers -- seven interceptions and two fumbles -- and two blocked kicks are an easy way to explain the lopsided loss to the Cougars.

Meyer doesn't expect to see it happen two weeks in a row.

"I think it's a bad week (to play Oregon) because they're really good. I'm not sure. That's just very uncharacteristic," Meyer said. "Oregon is going to be Oregon. They're a fast, talented team. I'd say a Top-10 talented team."

And an angry team. After finishing the 2001 season at No. 2, the Ducks slipped last year to a 7-6 finish. Oregon lost its last four games and six of its last seven.

The Ducks appeared to be back among the contenders after the Michigan win, then along came Washington State to wash away any progress Oregon had made in re-establishing its reputation.

"We've got a lot of things to prove and show," Parker said. "This isn't the same team we had last year where we had loss after loss. Everybody is on the team page."

Oregon hasn't played Utah since 2001, when Joey Harrington led the Ducks to a 24-10 win in Eugene. Paris Warren was a freshman receiver on that team and threw a 50-yard pitch pass against the Utes, then transferred to Utah after the season.

Warren, who leads the Utes in receiving with 24 catches for 245 yards, was very open about his dislike for his former program and how much he would like to beat the Ducks. But Meyer quickly put an end to that with a gag order this week.

"I'm a big believer in just shutting your mouth and playing football," Meyer said. "All you ever say is great things about your opponent. That's the rule here at Utah."

The rest of the Utes seem to have gotten the message.

"I think they're going to be more dangerous," strong safety Dave Revill said. "I don't think that last week had any reflection of what they are. I think they're a really good team. I think they just had a little bit of bad luck last week."

Friday is Utah's final non-conference game. The Utes opened Mountain West Conference play last week by upsetting defending MWC champion Colorado State 28-21 on an 80-yard fumble return with 1:33 remaining.

The Rams were well within field goal range before Arnold Parker came up with the big return. So instead of being 2-2 entering Friday night's game, the Utes have a chance at starting Meyer's first season at Utah 4-1 and doing it in front of a national television audience.

"This is huge. This is once again an opportunity for us to showcase our program," Meyer said.

This story is from's automated news wire. Wire index