Utah Utes football notebook: Late, non-league games rare for Utes
SALT LAKE CITY — When asked about playing a late-season non-conference game as the Utes have this week at Notre Dame, coach Kyle Whittingham said, "I think it's happened a time or two in the past, but it is rare."
Actually it's very rare, at least in November.
The last time the Utes played a non-conference game in November was clear back in 1988 when the Utes played in-state rival Utah State on Nov. 12 in Logan. The Utes and Aggies actually played six November games in the 1980s.
The last time the Utes played someone besides the Aggies in November was 27 years ago, in 1983 when they played Cal State-Fullerton at home on Nov. 5.
The last time the Utes went on the road to play an opponent other than Utah State was 1977, Wayne Howard's first year, when Utah went back to Gainesville and lost to Florida 38-29.
That was 28 years before Urban Meyer got to Gainesville, however.
COLD PREPARATION: Because of the recent wet weather, the Utes have stopped practicing at the usual place, the McCarthey Practice Fields, west of the football complex.
On Monday they practiced inside the Spence Eccles Field House, went to Rice-Eccles Stadium Tuesday, then returned to the Field House for Wednesday's practice.
So why didn't the Utes practice indoors on Tuesday when it was only 37 degrees outside?
"Because we're going to play at Notre Dame where it's going to be about 45 degrees outside," Whittingham said. "So that will seem warm to us."
NO ABYSS: Whittingham said his players "have responded very well and their minds appear to be in the right place," coming off the bad loss to TCU last week.
He's confident his team will bounce back this week. Every other time the Utes have suffered bad losses under Whittingham, they come back strong as they did after the loss to Boise State in 2006 (a 20-7 win over TCU), the UNLV loss in 2007 (a 34-18 win over Utah State) and last year's TCU loss (a 38-7 win over San Diego State).
"Have I been involved when we got beat and spiraled into the abyss? No, not that I can recall," said Whittingham.
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