LAS VEGAS — A welcome reception at the Hard Rock Café and tickets to Mystere by Cirque Du Soleil kick off Utah's trip to MAACO Bowl Las Vegas today.
"It's a reward. It's fun. We tell our players in bowl situations that we are there for two reasons," said Utah coach Kyle Whittingham. "First of all, to win the game. Obviously that's the primary reason. But you want to have a good time while you're there, enjoy everything the bowl has to offer."
Aside from today's activities, the Utes are scheduled to visit a children's hospital, eat at the Outback Buffet Bowl, attend a kickoff luncheon with guest speaker Herm Edwards and participate in a pep rally at the Fremont Street Experience before game day rolls around.
"There are a lot of functions with the MAACO Las Vegas Bowl that we are going to be able to attend and that's part of it," Whittingham said. "But you can never let your mind drift too far away from the task at hand."
Even so, he added, you still want to enjoy yourself.
"That's what a bowl experience is all about," Whittingham explained.
Getting to Vegas after weeks of practice in Utah has amped up the excitement.
"It makes it more real," said quarterback Terrance Cain. "We still have to practice. We still have work to do. But being at the actual bowl site, it lets you know you're getting close to the game."
It's obviously a bit of a balancing act.
"We're going to play Boise but at the same time we are going to have fun," said running back Matt Asiata. "I'm just really excited. I can't wait to play. I'm pumped up. I hope the team will follow in my footsteps (as a captain) and just get ready for Boise."
Fellow senior Caleb Schlauderaff has similar thoughts.
"I'm excited. Vegas is a great place, and it's a great bowl game," said the offensive lineman. "It'll be fun to go down there, go out with the seniors and try to get a win."
Same goes for the pomp and circumstance, like seeing Mystere by Cirque Du Soleil.
"It sounds like a blast to me," Schlauderaff said.
Schlauderaff's only previous trip to Las Vegas was with his roommates who were on a $50 budget. It took just 20 minutes for one of the casinos to take that off their hands.
"So this will be nice to go down with the team and actually see some of Vegas," Schlauderaff said.
It's part of the fun, he added.
"You get to go out and spend a little time with the other seniors," Schlauderaff explained. "We spend a lot of time in football and it's nice to get out of the football realm and get to see people just on a normal level."
Viva, Las Vegas!
4-6 p.m. — Welcome Reception at the Hard Rock Cafe
7-9 p.m. — Mystere by Cirque Du Soleil at Treasure Island
9-10 a.m. — Goodie Two Shoes Foundation at UNLV's Lied Athletic Center
10-11 a.m. — Summerlin Hospital visit
Afternoon — Practice at UNLV
6-7 p.m. — Outback Buffet Bowl at Fremont Street
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