Big East comes up short when facing Utes on gridiron

Published: Thursday, Sept. 2, 2010 11:40 p.m. MDT

SALT LAKE CITY — It remains to be seen how Utah will do in the Pac-10, once it moves to its new conference, next year. But one thing is abundantly clear: The Utes can play with the Big East.

The Utes opened their season Thursday with a 27-24 overtime win over Pittsburgh. That makes it two and counting over the program that brought you Tony Dorsett, Mike Ditka and Dan Marino. Of course, it's also the program that brought a shockingly ill-prepared group to the 2005 Fiesta Bowl and lost to Utah, 35-7.

Thursday featured different teams, different coaches and a different game, too. It wasn't until Joe Phillips' 21-yard field goal sailed through that the outcome was assured. When the teams met in the 2005 Fiesta Bowl, Urban Meyer was just wrapping up a two-year glory run with the Utes and Walt Harris was exiting at Pitt. This time, Pitt was far more ready. In fact, it overcame a 24-13 deficit in the fourth quarter.

But in the end, it was same result, different year.

If the Utes weren't headed to an automatic qualifying conference already, they'd right now be railing on the BCS. But big conference or small, the Utes are off to a nifty start.

"We came out to show people it wasn't a hoax why we're in the Pac-12," said defensive tackle Sealver Siliga. "I'm happy for that. But I'm just focused on this year and winning the Mountain West."

Whatever the league, chalk up another win for Utah over the Big East, which moves the Utes' all-time record against that conference to 8-0. That's batting a thousand. Not even Brando did that. Percentage-wise, it's the same as Utah's record against the Big Sky, though not nearly as long (31-0). It's also far better than their record against Conference USA (30-18).

The win proves one of two things: Either Utah is ready to move up to an automatic qualifying conference, as planned, or the Big East doesn't deserve to be one.

OK, that's too harsh on a Pitt team that came ever-so-close.

"We had a feeling it was gonna be that way," said Siliga.

Pitt came in ranked No. 15 and left with this admonition from a certain crimson-colored program: Don't come out West.

It's dangerous out here.

The win moved Utah's home streak to 18 straight, which means it has been winning at home since approximately the year the administration building went up (1914). How long since they lost? Since before Chris Schenkel ever uttered the phrase, "The color and pageantry of college football!"

Exaggerations aside, the Utes are in one fine home groove. Ask coach Kyle Whittingham anything about his success at home and he'll credit the crowds. He did so this week, predicting "electricity in Rice-Eccles Stadium."

And he didn't mean the field lights.

Recent comments

The Utes will need that great talent to beat UNLV.


worf | Sept. 3, 2010 at 7:39 p.m.

Excited to see how whitt incorporates the great talent into the weak...

hedgehog | Sept. 3, 2010 at 5:06 p.m.

Utes are simply awesome.

Keep on getting better! See you next...

Darth Vader | Sept. 3, 2010 at 4:34 p.m.

rss icon

Recommended in Sports


Amid the perfectly draped golf slacks, the brightly aligned smiles, the boyish but graying BYU quarterback haircuts, it wasn't hard to pick out Mad Mac.


After one lackluster victory during pool play, Mike Krzyzewski encountered some feistier competition in his news conference than the U.S. faced on the court.


Utah's defense appears to have reloaded. Seven new starters took the field in Thursday's 27-24 overtime win over Pittsburgh, and they meshed well.


Latest comments

"Question" is one of those misquided neconservatives who still believes...

Utah... why do you not care about your children? You should be ashamed.

Go Matich! PC is missing out this year

WOOHOO T-BIRDS!!! Would love to see a Bingham vs TV game in the future.

@ letter writer and you can build a Christian Church when a mosque is...

Once these children "who did not have a choice" turn 18 years old they are...

BYU football schedules Central Fla.

Live Hard I'm a little confused by your comment at 5:07 PM. Did you think...

So, WE shouldn't because THEY don't? Great example you lead there....

Ok Dems, I'm tired whenever you disagree you start name calling. Focus on...

What a tragic loss of life, yet I echo the words of so many others, that I am...