SALT LAKE CITY — Utah lost more than just a football game Saturday afternoon. The 47-7 setback to TCU cost the Utes a chance for Bowl Championship Series inclusion and a degree of national respect. Laying an egg with ESPN's "College GameDay" in town and a No. 5 placing in the BCS standings is never good.
"I'd like to win every game. All our players would like to win every game. It didn't happen. It's not going to happen. Not this year," said Utah coach Kyle Whittingham. "And so we can't feel sorry for ourselves. We've got to pick ourselves up and keep moving forward."
It won't be easy. The Utes had a lot to gain against the Horned Frogs.
"Yeah, it was a negative in the respect that we had the national stage and national spotlight and really did zero with it," Whittingham acknowledged.
The loss also most likely wiped out Utah's primary goal of winning the Mountain West Conference championship. TCU has pretty much locked that up entering season-ending games against San Diego State and New Mexico.
Senior center Zane Taylor, a captain, declined to discuss specifics but admitted that a lot of team goals this season will now be kind of impossible to accomplish.
"But all we can do is just get up, forget about this game. It's ancient history. We can't let it linger with us for the rest of the season," Taylor said. "We've got to focus on our next opponent, Notre Dame. We need to go over there and play the kind of football that we know we can play and put this game behind us."
Whittingham, who doesn't expect TCU to lose again, said the bottom line is Utah's quest to win the MWC is out. However, there's still a lot to play for. The Utes close the season with games at Notre Dame and San Diego State before the home finale against BYU.
"We've still got three ballgames left, three very winnable ballgames left," Whittingham said. "We'll find out what we are made of."
BOUNCING BACK: Taylor said he'd like to think that the lopsided loss had more to do with TCU than anything else.
Even so, it still didn't sit well.
"Anyone who's been in this program for a while, a game like this definitely chips at your pride, and you never want to feel this way," Taylor said.
It was the largest deficit Utah has had since a 51-10 setback at Rice in 1996.
SHAKY STUFF: Utah won at least one battle with TCU. Shaky Smithson's 10-yard punt return in the second quarter gave him 570 on the season, eclipsing the MWC-record of 563 set by TCU's Jeremy Kerley in 2009.
After the game, Smithson had a simple explanation for how the Frogs hopped by the Utes on the scoreboard.
"They are a good ballclub and we're a great ballclub also," he said. "They were just better today."
NO BLAME GAME: Whittingham made it clear in his postgame remarks that there would be no finger-pointing after the disappointing performance by the Utes.
"This is a team loss. This is not on any one guy or any one phase," Whittingham said. "This is an absolute team loss, without a doubt."37 comments on this story
EXTRA POINTS: Linebacker Chaz Walker finished with a career-high 18 tackles, and defensive end Christian Cox had a career-best with 12 … Safety Brian Blechen forced a fumble and recorded a tackle-for-loss … Defensive tackle Sealver Siliga recovered a fumble for the Utes … Linebacker J.J. Williams made his season debut and recorded a tackle … Defensive tackle Star Lotulelei made a stop behind the line of scrimmage … Running backs Eddie Wide and Matt Asiata wound up with 32 and 27 yards rushing, respectively … Wide receiver DeVonte Christopher led Utah with six catches … Sean Sellwood averaged 43.4 yards on eight punts, including a 67-yarder … Smithson had a game-high 158 all-purpose yards.