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Utah Utes football: Squad focused on Cyclones, not high ranking

Published: Sunday, Oct. 3 2010 11:25 p.m. MDT

SALT LAKE CITY — Utah coach Kyle Whittingham didn't have much to say about the Utes' climb to No. 10 in both the Associated Press and USA Today Coaches Poll rankings.

"I think we'll just let it lie this week," he said. "All our attention is on Iowa State. We're not getting caught up in anything else."

Not even Utah's earliest ascent ever into the top 10?

"Nah," Whittingham responded. "No comment on that."

The Utes (4-0) enter Saturday's game in Ames, Iowa, on the heels of a bye week. Despite being idle, they moved up in both polls after Florida, Stanford and Wisconsin suffered setbacks.

Another big change involved Oregon moving ahead of Boise State, going from No. 4 to No. 3 in the two rankings. Mountain West Conference favorite TCU is fifth. Air Force cracked the AP rankings at No. 25 this week.

Poll position, though, isn't foremost on Whittingham's mind. He's thinking about Iowa State.

"No question about it. They had a great showing against Texas Tech," Whittingham said. "They beat them soundly, and we've got our work cut out for us. There's no doubt about it."

The Cyclones (3-2) are coming off an impressive 52-38 win over Texas Tech. It was the highest point production they've had against a conference opponent since putting 55 points on Kansas State in 1972.

"They've got some good athletes," Whittingham said. "They've got some good running backs. They're running the ball extremely well. That's really what their strong suit is right now."

Alexander Robinson and Shontrelle Johnson rushed for 103 and 102 yards, respectively, against the Red Raiders. Quarterback Austen Amaud threw a career-high four touchdown passes.

"The quarterback had a nice game as well, but the thing that was really the difference in the game was their rushing attack," Whittingham said. "They had a bunch of rushing yards. They did a nice job."

Before hitting the recruiting trail last weekend, Whittingham acknowledged the Utes spent part of their bye week preparing for Iowa State.

Whittingham said the Cyclones have a similar offense to the Utes and their defensive scheme includes a lot of zone coverage.

"They've got a lot of speed and athleticism on defense," he said. "And they've got good size up front on the offensive line."

All in all, he added, Iowa State is "a classic Big 12 team."

After outlasting Pittsburgh in overtime, the Utes (4-0) weren't really tested in wins over UNLV, New Mexico and San Jose State. Iowa State could present a challenge they haven't had since the season-opener against the Panthers.

Utah enters the contest on a historical note. The Utes moved up to No. 10 in both major polls on Sunday, marking their earliest climb ever to the rankings elite. They've reached the milestone in three other seasons, cracking the top 10 on Oct. 30, 1994 (Coaches: eighth; AP: ninth); Oct. 10, 2004 (Coaches: 10th); and Oct. 26, 2008 (Coaches: ninth, AP: 10th).

It's Utah's first inclusion in top 10 rankings since the final polls of 2008 when the Utes finished second (AP) and fourth (USA Today) overall.

AP top 10

1. Alabama

2. Ohio State

3. Oregon

4. Boise State

5. TCU

6. Oklahoma

7. Nebraska

8. Auburn

9. Arizona

10. Utah

Coaches top 10

1. Alabama

2. Ohio State

3. Oregon

4. Boise State

5. TCU

6. Nebraska

7. Oklahoma

8. Auburn

9. LSU

10. Utah

Utes on the air

No. 10 Utah (4-0) at Iowa State (3-2)

Saturday, 5 p.m.

TV: Fox College Sports

Radio: 700 AM

e-mail: dirk@desnews.com

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