Utes are first and 10

By Chris Kamrani, Asst. Sports Editor

Go figure.

The rolling (8-0, 4-0) Utes make their most significant jump this season after not playing a game.

Kyle Whittingham’s bunch have gone from unranked to kick-off the season to cracking the top 10 at No. 10 after nine weeks of college football in the books. They currently sit at No. 10 in the Bowl Championship Series standings as well as No. 9 in the USA Today Coaches’ poll.

So far this season, the Utes have gone to Ann Arbor, Mich., and bounced the Wolverines in the Big House and gained revenge for last year’s losses to Air Force, UNLV and Oregon State. Throw in wins over in-state schools Utah State, Weber State and blow-out victories against Wyoming and Colorado State, and the Utes are sitting pretty as the second Mountain West Conference team this season to be a top 10 squad.

Now two-thirds through the season, the Utes are undefeated, but with the last third of the season creeping up Saturday at New Mexico, it certainly won’t get any easier for this Utah team.

“People don’t believe us, but we don’t talk about that ever,” Whittingham said in regards to the weekly polls. “We just talk about the next opponent, we just talk about improving each week.”

Hot on their tails in chase of the non-conference BCS bid is No. 11 Boise State and the terrorizing defense of No. 12 TCU, who sent BYU’s dream of an undefeated season down the drain two weeks ago.

Following the matchup against the Lobos on Nov. 1, the Utes’ final three games of the season present three, extremely different obstacles.

Most notably, the Thurs., Nov. 6 showdown against the visiting Horned Frogs, which has been dubbed the “Blackout” game, will be the penultimate test so far this season for Utes.

The Blackout game will be followed Nov. 15 with a face-off against a 1-7 San Diego State team on the road. Then comes the Nov. 22 confrontation with BYU.

In years past, it has been typical for the Utah offense to carry the load throughout the season, but this year, thanks to a fearsome, talented and versatile defense, the Utes spearhead a two-headed monster of talent on both sides of the ball.

The Utes are now four wins away from perfection8212;four wins away from, in all probability, another BCS-busting year.

“There’s a certain maturity about them,” Whittingham said about his team and the way they handle adversity. “They’ve been able to understand the big picture and see the big picture.”

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Lucas Isley

As Matt Asiata and the football team rested during the bye week they were able to move into the top ten of the BCS poll.