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Utah Utes football: Utes return to the scene of their Fiesta Bowl triumph

Published: Tuesday, Sept. 18 2012 8:34 p.m. MDT

Utah's Morgan Scalley (25), Sione Pouha and Alex Smith (11) celebrate their 2005 Fiesta Bowl win in Tempe, Ariz.

Jeffrey D. Allred, Jeffrey D. Allred

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SALT LAKE CITY — Utah returns Saturday to the scene of one its greatest football triumphs — Arizona State's Sun Devil Stadium.

Nearly eight years have passed since the Utes have played at the venue. On Jan. 1, 2005, Utah blasted Pittsburgh 35-7 in the Fiesta Bowl to cap a 12-0 season as the original BCS Busters.

"That was a great night," recalled Utah coach Kyle Whittingham.

Safeties coach Morgan Scalley, who was a team captain on that squad, also has fond memories of that game in Tempe, Ariz.

"It was awesome. Our crowd showed up," Scalley said. "Our fans were crazy. It was neat. It really was."

While a majority of the 73,519 fans at that game supported the Utes, things will be much different this time around. This is ASU's home field, after all, and the Sun Devils (2-1) are off to a good start under new head coach Todd Graham.

Despite ASU's close loss at Missouri last week, Scalley is expecting the crowd to be excited and ready to go for the Pac-12 opener.

"Their fans are going to be going crazy. They've got a great student section there," Scalley said. "Obviously it was more of a home game when I played (at the stadium) as opposed to a road game because of all the fans that showed up."

Even so, Scalley acknowledged it'll still "be neat to be back there on that field" at what he considers a great facility.

And the team that calls the place home, he added, is very skilled. ASU defeated the Utes 35-14 last season at Rice-Eccles Stadium.

A coaching change has altered the familiar faces on the opposing sideline. The newcomers, however, include Graham, offensive coordinator Mike Norvell and defensive coordinator Paul Randolph, who worked at Pittsburgh last season when the Utes defeated the Panthers 26-14 at Heinz Field.

In addition to their familiarity with the Sun Devils' roster after playing them last year, Scalley noted that the Utah coaching staff also knows several of the ASU players well from the recruiting process — tailback Cameron Marshall, left guard Jamil Douglas and right guard Andrew Sampson, plus backup quarterback Michael Eubank.

"So we're very familiar with their personnel," Scalley said. "So it kind of adds something to the game a little bit."

Email: dirk@desnews.com, Twitter: @DirkFacer

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