Utah football: Business as usual for Utes
Never mind that a Bowl Championship Series game and sole possession of the Mountain West Conference title is at stake or that Utah and BYU are playing each other when both are ranked for the first time since 1994, the Utah Utes are insisting this week is business as usual.
Saturday's game between No. 8 Utah (11-0, 7-0) and No. 16 BYU (10-1, 6-1) at Rice-Eccles Stadium is arguably the biggest since the series started in 1896, but the way the Utes' see it, their formula for winning has worked the last 11 games, no sense in changing anything now.
That formula included taking Monday off, just as the Utes have done several times before Saturday games.
Preparing for Max Hall and the MWC's best offense will have to wait a day, at least before the on-field preparations start.
"You're not changing anything you're doing," Utah coach Kyle Whittingham said at his news conference Monday. "Obviously there is a little more intensity with this game than a regular conference game, but you have to prepare the same way. You can't deviate from the formula that has gotten you here."
Keeping the blinders on the team will be hard to do this week with the state, and country, buzzing about the rivalry.
The possibility that Utah might be this season's BCS buster is drawing several national media outlets to the game as well as bowl reps from the Sugar Bowl, Fiesta Bowl and Orange Bowl.
ESPN's popular show College GameDay won't be here like it was for the 2004 Utah-BYU game, it will be in Norman, Okla., for the Big 12 showdown between Texas Tech and Oklahoma, but the network is sending a satellite truck on Friday to tape Whittingham for the "Jim Rome is Burning" show.
"There is a lot at stake in this game as far as post-season play, everybody understands that and that really is the main reason this game is gathering so much attention," Whittingham said. "It's not who we play as much as the circumstances, but we have to keep things in perspective and not worry about anything beyond this game."