Football Isn’t Worried About Going to Provo

As the Utah football team begins its final preparations for taking on undefeated and top-10-ranked BYU this Saturday, it at least has the comfort of knowing the game will be played in friendly confines.

True, the contest will take place at Provo’s LaVell Edwards Stadium in front of 65,000 mostly hostile Cougar fans, but after winning on each of their last four forays into Provo, and not dropping a game there since 1991, the Utes are not overly concerned with playing BYU at BYU.

Nevertheless, U coach Ron McBride remains at a loss on how to explain how his group could go 1-5 at home a year ago, but have such tremendous success in such an odd place.

“It’s just good luck, I guess. There’s no magic down there or anything. We’ve just been fortunate,” McBride said. “I mean, how many years did we go without winning there [before the current streak]? Eighty? So I don’t look at it as us having an advantage.”

Meanwhile, though the Utes did acknowledge that such a large-capacity arena, when filled with rowdy occupants, at least creates the potential for disruption, they maintain that the environment they encountered at Oregon’s Autzen Stadium?which accommodates nearly 25,000 fewer people than does the field in Provo?was far more disconcerting.

“In Oregon, those fans are all right on top of you, so the noise becomes a problem,” McBride said. “At BYU, the noise isn’t really a factor because the fans are further back.”

In the end, with the inherent pride that comes from wanting to beat a hated rival, not to mention the added motivation of potentially playing for a conference championship, worrying about the venue where it’s all taking place is the last thing on the Utes’ minds.

Then again, considering the success they’ve had there in the last decade, those impudent U athletes might just consider playing in Provo a factor that works in their favor, their own undefeated home schedule notwithstanding.

“Every year I’ve been here, we’ve won at BYU, so I almost look at this as my final home game,” said senior offensive lineman Doug Kaufusi.

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