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Utah football notebook: The two Pac-12 newcomers have struggled

Published: Thursday, Nov. 22 2012 8:01 p.m. MST

Utah Utes head coach Kyle Whittingham leaves the field after losing to USC during Pac-12 football in Salt Lake City Thursday, Oct. 4, 2012.

Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News

BOULDER, Colo. — Life in the Pac-12 hasn't been good for Utah or Colorado. The newcomers have taken their share of lumps since joining the conference last year.

Entering Friday's game at Folsom Field, the Utes are just 6-11 in Pac-12 games and the Buffaloes are a paltry 3-14.

"I think the league is much, much better this year than it was last year across the board," said Utah coach Kyle Whittingham. "I can't speak for Colorado, but speaking for us, I think the league is elevated. There's no doubt about that. We're still working hard to get to the level we need to be at. We're not there yet but it's very competitive."

Whittingham then repeated something he has said often since the program's transition into the Pac-12.

"The bar has been raised in all areas," he explained. "That's really the long and short of it."

Colorado coach Jon Embree recently described his young team's current status as going through "growing pains."

The Buffaloes have lost seven straight Pac-12 games, falling by an average margin of 50-12.

EXTREMELY MOTIVATED: Despite the disappointment of a losing season, Utah's underclassmen are determined to send the senior class out with a win.

"I felt really bad after that game last week, coming into that locker room and seeing their faces," junior defensive lineman Tenny Palepoi said, while noting that being able to play one more game with the seniors kind of eases the pain of last week's 34-24 loss to Arizona. "Ending with a 'W' for them would be really nice."

Sophomore wide receiver Kenneth Scott is confident the Utes will bounce back.

"We can definitely pick it up and end it right," he said.

Freshman quarterback Travis Wilson has similar thoughts, noting: "I know everyone's going to give it their 100 percent and I think we're going to have great game on Friday."

REVENGE FACTOR: Whittingham downplayed any revenge factor from last year's 17-14 upset win by Colorado at Rice-Eccles Stadium. The loss wound up costing Utah a berth in the inaugural Pac-12 championship game against Oregon.

"Is there a revenge factor? I'm not sure about that," Whittingham said. "It's just another game that we need to try to go win."

EXTRA POINTS: Colorado leads the all-time series over Utah by a 31-24-3 margin . . . Although the teams have met just once since 1962, this is the fifth most-played series for the Utes . . . Utah hasn't played in Boulder since 1961 . . . Colorado punter Darragh O'Neill is second in the Pac-12 and 17th nationally with an average of 43.57 yards per kick.

Email: dirk@desnews.com Twitter: @DirkFacer

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