Football Almost Assured of Bowl

By and

Saturday’s 42-14 demolition of UNLV not only proved to Utah football coach Ron McBride’s satisfaction that the Utes could respond well to adversity, but the win also virtually assured the team of postseason play after a year’s hiatus.

Standing at 6-2 overall, 3-1 MWC, the Utes are in second place in the MWC behind league-leading BYU (9-0, 5-0), and a half-game ahead of conference rivals Colorado State and New Mexico.

With the MWC guaranteed at least three bowl appearances (Liberty, Las Vegas, New Orleans), and a fourth if BYU remains undefeated, rises in the Bowl Championship Series rankings and earns a spot in a BCS game, Utah is in prime position to finally put the ignominy of its disastrous 4-7 campaign in 2000 behind it.

A week removed from dropping a 19-17 decision to the Rams, McBride couldn’t be happier with his team’s situation.

“The win against UNLV was huge because it got us on track and made us bowl eligible,” McBride said. “It was a big statement game for our team because we were coming off a disappointing loss to CSU.”

And while the self destructive ways that cost Utah against the Rams manifested themselves again early vs. UNLV, with Ute quarterback Lance Rice having two interceptions returned for touchdowns within a span of three plays, the coach said the true character of this team?one that will make it postseason-worthy?was displayed immediately thereafter.

“We didn’t panic after those two turnovers; [we] got back on track and then jumped on [the Rebels],” McBride said.

But with San Diego State coming to Salt Lake City this weekend hoping to play the spoiler in Utah’s home finale, the Utes feel confident about who and where they are.

With three games left in the regular season, Utah not only ranks first in defense and second in offense in the conference, but has established itself among the nation’s elite, as well?ranking 15th in the nation in total defense, and 23rd in total offense.

[email protected]