San Antonio • In the buildup to the Alamo Bowl, one theme clearly has emerged: Utah’s football players and coaches are tired of talking about the Pac-12 championship game.
They’ve had to live with that 37-15 loss to Oregon, costing themselves not only a conference title but an opportunity to play on a bigger stage than meeting Texas on New Year’s Eve. It’s also true that fans and the media tend to dwell on the previous game, and that’s magnified by having three weeks between kickoffs.
Utah’s offensive line, which had its worst game of the season against Oregon, didn’t spend any more time than usual reviewing that game with position coach Jim Harding, left tackle Darrin Paulo said.
“We had coach Harding tell us what we did wrong — very short, but very to the point explanation of why we lost,” Paulo said. “Other than that, we always look forward.”
Assistant coaches Morgan Scalley and Andy Ludwig also have grudgingly fielded questions about the Oregon game, while quickly saying they've moved on to Texas.
Utah will wear white jerseys Tuesday and the Utes definitely will feel like a road team against Texas, with the Longhorns playing 80 miles from their campus in Austin.
The 65,000-seat Alamodome is expected to be loud and close to filled, with more than 90% of fans cheering for Texas. The Longhorns will have the biggest home-field advantage of any opponent in Utah’s bowl history. USC was playing close to home in a 28-21 win over Utah in the 1993 Freedom Bowl, but Trojan fans were not especially excited about the matchup in Anaheim, Calif, where the announced attendance was 43,000.
Utah tight end Brant Kuithe played in the Alamodome in a 2016 Texas Class 6A Division II semifinal game, as his Cinco Ranch team from suburban Houston lost 35-14 to Cibolo Steele, located 25 miles from San Antonio.
Kuithe, then a junior running back, scored both of his team's touchdowns, late in the game. Steele's Caden Sterns, now a Texas starting safety, intercepted a pass for one of his team's five takeaways.
Like a lot of Texans, Kuithe described himself as a “big Texas fan growing up — not so much now.”
Edward Aschoff, an ESPN writer and reporter who died last week at age 34, was a favorite among members of Utah's student section, the MUSS.
The last tweet from Aschoff, before illness overtook him, was an acknowledgement of a MUSS member’s reminder about the group’s passion, related to his involvement in judging the “Live Mas Student Section Contest.”
Social media participation was a component of the contest (the MUSS made the semifinals). “Many of the board members have given us positive feedback, but Edwards was special because he consistently interacted with us in real time during games — retweeting our experiences and showing people east of the Mississippi our football tradition here at the U.,” a MUSS member wrote.