Utes football: Upsets have put Utes on edge heading into game against Weber State
Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News
SALT LAKE CITY — Considering what happened in college football last week, the Utah Utes are no doubt hoping that eight is enough when it comes to FCS wins over FBS teams. That’s how many times the less-financed guys with the fewer scholarships knocked off the big boys in 2013 season openers.
The upsets included Eastern Washington of the Big Sky knocking off Oregon State of the Pac-12, 49-46 in Corvallis, Ore.; North Dakota State upending defending Big 12 champion Kansas State, 24-21; and Southern Utah prevailing at South Alabama, 22-21.
On Saturday, an FBS-FCS matchup is slated for Rice-Eccles Stadium when Utah (1-0) takes on in-state foe Weber State (1-0) at noon.
It’s a game the Utes vow not to overlook, especially after what happened last week.
“There’s good talent everywhere and it showed up last Saturday with that loss that Oregon State took,” said Utah defensive tackle Tenny Palepoi, who noted that the Utes are determined to take the same mindset into the Weber State game that they had in their season-opening win over Utah State.
Utah coach Kyle Whittingham noted that — without a doubt — the success FCS teams had against FBS squads in the opening week of the season is something that would be addressed in Monday’s team meeting.
Besides the victories posted by Eastern Washington, North Dakota State and Southern Utah, there were five other surprising outcomes. McNeese State topped South Florida, 53-21; Northern Iowa edged Iowa State, 28-20; Eastern Illinois overpowered San Diego State, 40-19; Samford knocked off Georgia State, 31-21; and Towson State topped Connecticut, 33-18.
Like Whittingham and Palepoi, quarterback Travis Wilson noted the importance of making sure no one is lackadaisical this week. The Utes, he continued, need to keep progressing.
“We’ve got to make sure we treat it just as any other game. We can’t take anything off,” Wilson said. “We can’t practice any less or not go as hard because Weber State is a good team and we’ve always got to be prepared for the next game.”
The Wildcats are coming off a 50-40 victory over Stephen F. Austin last Saturday in Ogden.
“When they get hot, they stay hot,” Palepoi said of Weber State’s explosive offense. “So we have to stay on top of them and jump on top of them as fast as we can.”
Whittingham noted that Weber State offensive coordinator Robin Pflugrad has an Oregon background, having served as the Ducks’ receivers coach under Mike Bellotti.
“We’ve got to be ready and do things better than we did last week defensively — by a long shot,” Whittingham said.
Utah, though, is 35-0 against teams currently in the Big Sky Conference. The Utes have won all three previous meetings against Weber State, outscoring the Wildcats by a margin of 119-44.
The teams last met in 2008, with Utah prevailing 37-21.
Weber State (1-0) at Utah (1-0)
TV: Pac-12 Networks
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