|Utah last of unbeatens in Mountain West|
|Written by Admin|
|Friday, 17 October 2008 11:30|
No. 14 Utah is the last unbeaten team in the Mountain West after TCU's 32-7 win over No. 9 BYU on Thursday. The Utes (7-0, 3-0) host Colorado State on Saturday and will try to extend their eight-game winning streak, which is tied for the longest in the nation.
Utah is a three-touchdown favorite on Saturday against the Rams (3-3, 1-1). The Utes are already off to their best start since going 12-0 in 2004, when they were the original BCS busters. And thanks to a loss by the rival Cougars, Utah has the best chance of any conference team of becoming the first non-BCS school to make one of the four top bowl games twice.
``Through seven games, we've found a way to win each week, but we've got to keep getting better,'' Utah coach Kyle Whittingham said.
Utah's schedule still includes TCU, which hasn't lost a conference game, and BYU, the two-time defending Mountain West champions. If the Utes stumble any time before that, they can forget about the BCS.
Utah is coming off a 40-7 win at Wyoming last week, when gusty winds slowed the offense to 240 yards but the Utes compensated by scoring on a blocked punt, fumble recovery and interception return.
``We can play better,'' quarterback Brian Johnson said. ``That's the encouraging thing - to realize that we are 7-0 and we still haven't played our best football.''
Last week was still an improvement over the previous game, when Utah rallied for 11 points in the final minutes of a 31-28 win over Oregon State. The Utes turned the ball over twice to the Beavers and have had three other games this season with three turnovers.
Utah went without a turnover last week, a first for 2008, and went from allowing 405 yards against Oregon State to Wyoming's total of 252.
``It's not like we were giving up small chunks of yardage that were hurting us. Whenever we did mess up it was costing us a big gain,'' said cornerback Sean Smith, who had two interceptions last week and returned one for a touchdown. ``Coaches did a great job of harping on us all week long and making sure we finish all four quarters.''
Colorado State already has as many wins as the Rams did last season under coach Sonny Lubick, who was fired after a 15-year tenure. Former Colorado State quarterback Steve Fairchild was hired to replace Lubick and has the Rams at .500 midway through the season, quite a turnaround from last year's 0-6 start.
The Rams are in the middle of a perilous stretch of the schedule - facing TCU, Utah and BYU in a four-week span.
Quarterback Billy Farris has been the starter all season, but last week Fairchild pulled him in the second half of a 13-7 loss to TCU and replaced him with freshman Klay Kubiak, son of Houston Texans coach and former NFL quarterback Gary Kubiak.
Neither QB fared well against the Horned Frogs, who have the top-ranked defense in the country, but Fairchild said he is willing to replace Farris again if he feels Kubiak has a better chance at reviving Colorado State's passing game.
``I feel sorry for our fans. I feel sorry for everybody because at times out there it looked like spring football,'' Fairchild said. ``It just looked like we would have a hard time throwing against Rocky Mountain High School. We've got to get better.''
Farris was 5-for-11 for 67 yards and Kubiak completed 12 of 24 for 121 yards. Kubiak was also sacked five times last week, in the second game of his career. Utah's defense doesn't rank quite as high as TCU's, but it is close. The Utes have allowed 259 yards per game, which is second in the Mountain West and No. 7 nationally.
``I think they pose probably a tougher challenge than what we faced offensively last week because we're going against a similar defense on the road. We're not playing them at home,'' Fairchild said.