Hopeful BCS-busting Utes face lowly Aztecs Print
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Friday, 14 November 2008 10:39
NCAAF Headline News

 SAN DIEGO (AP) - The last time the Utah Utes were in San Diego, they played Navy in the bottom-tier Poinsettia Bowl that kicked off college football's 2007 postseason.
The potential prize this season is much, much bigger.
The No. 8 Utes (10-0, 6-0 Mountain West Conference) need to remain undefeated to keep alive their chances of becoming BCS Busters for the second time in five seasons. They play their last road game on Saturday night against the lowly San Diego State Aztecs (1-9, 0-6) before their big rivalry game against No. 16 BYU.
Coming off a narrow escape against No. 15 TCU, the Utes know they can ill afford a misstep, especially against an Aztecs team that is having such a miserable season that its only win has been against Idaho.
``We tell them to do the same thing they have been doing week-in and week-out the last 10 weeks,'' coach Kyle Whittingham said. ``We can't fall in love with ourselves and be thinking that we've arrived. There is plenty that we need to fix from the TCU game. There is never a point where we've got it all figured out and there is nothing to fix.''
Although the Utes remain in contention for a Bowl Championship Series berth, their focus this week will be on clinching at least a share of the Mountain West Conference title.
``We have been able to take a week-to-week approach through 10 games and fully anticipate being able to do the same thing this week and not catch ourselves looking beyond,'' Whittingham said.
The Utes trailed TCU 10-0 before rallying for a 13-10 win last Saturday. Brian Johnson marched Utah 80 yards in the final minutes and completed a 9-yard touchdown pass to Freddie Brown with 48 seconds left.
Despite being outgained 416 yards to 275, Utah improved to 10-0 for just the second time in school history, matching the start of the original BCS Busters in 2004. Utah finished 12-0 that season, beating Pittsburgh in the Fiesta Bowl after becoming the first team from an outsider conference to crash the BCS.
Whittingham said rallying to beat the Horned Frogs helped establish an identity.
``They are emerging as a hard-nosed blue-collar team that responds well to adversity. That's been their M.O. ever since fall camp.''
The coach also said his players noticed when then-No. 3 Penn State was upset by Iowa on a last-second field goal.
was a wake-up call for our guys,'' he said.
They Aztecs would love to pull off an upset, but it would be an enormous task for a school that is out of the bowl picture for the 10th straight year.
``It's a great opportunity, one that's very rare,'' said coach Chuck Long, who is 8-26 in three seasons and hasn't been able to revive the Aztecs' sad-sack reputation.
This will be San Diego State's first home game against a top-10 team since Gino Torretta and the No. 1 Miami Hurricanes won 63-17 on Nov. 28, 1992, while injured Aztecs star Marshall Faulk watched from the sideline.
The Aztecs will be playing a Top 25 team for the second time in a week. They lost 41-12 at BYU last Saturday.
``It's been awhile and apparently we've never beaten a top-10 team before in Division I history,'' Long said. ``We're excited for a challenge. Anytime you're in the top 10 it's an incredible feat. It's very difficult to be there and to stay there. They've done it and maintained it.''
The highest-ranked team to lose to the Aztecs was No. 12 Iowa State on Oct. 10, 1981, 52-31 in San Diego.
Athletic director Jeff Schemmel said earlier this year that Long will return in 2009.

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