Will Wyoming enact revenge for last year’s game?

By Chris Kamrani, Asst. Sports Editor

“Dead and buried.”
It’s not a token measure of “24”‘s Jack Bauer, but rather a sentiment from Utah football head coach Kyle Whittingham, when asked earlier this week about an incident that occurred last year with the Wyoming Cowboys and their head coach Joe Glenn.

“I’ve seen coach Glenn two or three times since (last year’s game),” Whittingham said. “That’s in the past.”
Last year’s 50-0 obliteration of Wyoming was memorable for two specific reasons. One, Glenn “guaranteed” a victory at Rice-Eccles Stadium. Two, he proceeded to grant a final farewell to the Utah sideline with an impromptu middle-finger salute after the Utes went for an onside kick in the third quarter with a 43-0 lead.

“We don’t ask that you have to love us or ask you have to hate us,” quarterback Brian Johnson said following last year’s game. “Just give us a little bit of respect. That’s our biggest deal.”

The Utes certainly turned Glenn’s failed hypothesis into reason for motivation and, after the antics of last year’s wild game, both teams will certainly be rearing to go in Laramie, Wyo., on Saturday.

“We had a great game against (Wyoming) last year,” said Utah wide receiver Brent Casteel. “But that was last year, so we gotta go out there and prove it again.”

So, the question that begs asking heading into Saturday is whether or not the No. 14 Utes will be able to corral another intense road environment.

The last time the Utes went up to Laramie, they headed into halftime down 31-0 and went on to lose 31-15. Despite that loss, however, the Utes have won seven of their last eight games against the Cowboys and lead the series 19-18 all-time in the Cowboy State.

Emerging victorious last year, especially scoring 50 points against the then-No. 6 defense in the nation, was impressive with or without any guarantee. The Utes stacked up 505 yards of total offense and scored 40 points in the first half.

While the Utes will carry over some motivation from last year’s contest, Whittingham thinks the Cowboys will be at the top of their game for their 84th homecoming face off.

“I’m sure they will be fired up,” Whittingham said. “(Wyoming) whacked us two years ago up there. I’m positive we will get their best shot.”

Glenn certainly played it safe on the weekly Mountain West Conference teleconference by steering clear of any pot-stirring statements or locker room bulletin material.

“We’ve got a whale of a Utah team coming in here,” Glenn said.
The Cowboys (2-4, 0-3 MWC) have run into a brick wall offensively, as they have had to play “musical quarterbacks” so far this season.

“They are a little unsettled at quarterback,” Whittingham said. “That is one of the biggest situations that they need to overcome. Their offense doesn’t change much despite that.”

Utah must be wary of and accountable for Wyoming’s dynamic duo in the backfield. Seniors Devin Moore and Wynel Seldon are two of the best backs in the league and could possibly spell trouble for the Utes.

“Their running backs are very good,” Whittingham said. “They are the strength of their offense. Moore is gaining well over five yards a carry and Seldon is a tough, bigger back. Those guys run very hard.”

The Utes are coming off a season-changing performance last week against Oregon State. Their comeback was both impressive and improbable, but now, especially after last year, the Utes’ focus is solely on Wyoming.

“It’ll be a big game for them,” Casteel said. “It’ll be an even bigger game for us. We got a lot more riding than they do, so we gotta go out there and play like it’s our last.”

As is the case every week, the Utes do have a lot riding on this performance. With the domino effect that will begin in the polls once the Big 12, Big 10 and SEC start going at one another’s throats, the Utes must be there, ready to pounce with an unblemished, undefeated record if they hope to crash the Bowl Championship Series.

“It’s supposed to be cold up in Laramie,” Whittingham said. “We have to get ourselves ready. We have conference play from here on out and have our work cut out for us.”

Ute defensive end Paul Kruger disagrees with his head coach and believes that last year’s game isn’t exactly dead and buried.

“No, not at all,” Kruger said. “I’m sure they’re using that as fuel to heat the fire. I’m assuming they’re gonna have some hatred and intense stuff going on.”

[email protected]