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Utah Utes football: 'Golden opportunity' awaits Utes

Published: Tuesday, Nov. 9 2010 1:01 a.m. MST

Utah coaches and players stand stunned during their loss to TCU. They get a another chance to play on national TV against Notre Dame on Saturday.  (Scott G. Winterton, Deseret News) Utah coaches and players stand stunned during their loss to TCU. They get a another chance to play on national TV against Notre Dame on Saturday. (Scott G. Winterton, Deseret News)

SALT LAKE CITY — It isn't exactly a "do-over," but it does come close ... sort of, maybe, perhaps.

A week after a poor performance in the national spotlight, the 15th-ranked Utah Utes get another chance to show the country what they can do.

Saturday's game at Notre Dame will be broadcast on NBC.

"We were on a pretty big stage this last Saturday and we blew it," senior center Zane Taylor said in reference to last weekend's 47-7 loss to TCU at Rice-Eccles Stadium, where ESPN's "College GameDay" show set up shop in the parking lot. "So we get a chance to kind of shine again, get our momentum going back and get the program moving in the right direction again."

Although the Fighting Irish (4-5) are a far cry from being the Horned Frogs (10-0), the game will be available to a larger nationwide audience. The Utah-TCU game was televised by CBS College Sports.

Coach Kyle Whittingham grimaces during the Utes' 47-7 loss to TCU. It was the program's worst defeat since losing to Colorado State 50-10 in 1989.       (Tom Smart, Deseret News) Coach Kyle Whittingham grimaces during the Utes' 47-7 loss to TCU. It was the program's worst defeat since losing to Colorado State 50-10 in 1989. (Tom Smart, Deseret News)

"We're definitely excited to have a big game on our schedule following a tough loss like this," Taylor said.

Utah coach Kyle Whittingham acknowledged that national TV exposure is good for the program. He doesn't, however, believe the Utes are really reeling after last week's poor showing.

"We've still got a good national reputation. We're 8-1 and you are who your record says you are and so we've had a good season to this point," Whittingham said. "Certainly the national exposure, the national television audience can be a positive. You've got to play well. If you don't play well, it's as big of a negative as it could be a positive on the other side of the coin.

"But it is an opportunity," he noted. "It's a golden opportunity, I guess you could say."

Redemption, though, will depend on how the Utes respond to their most lopsided setback at home since a 50-10 loss to Colorado State in 1989.

Jordan Wynn says the team needs to get back on the field to change how they've felt since the TCU loss. (Scott G. Winterton, Deseret News) Jordan Wynn says the team needs to get back on the field to change how they've felt since the TCU loss. (Scott G. Winterton, Deseret News)

"You can't sulk, can't pout, can't feel sorry for yourself," Whittingham said. "We got whipped and we've got to move on."

Quarterback Jordan Wynn is confident the team will do so.

"We'll bounce back. We just need to get on the field Saturday," he said. "The only way I know to correct this feeling of a loss is to go out and try to win another game."

The Utes, he added, simply need to forget about the TCU game and focus everything on the Fighting Irish.

Taylor agrees with the approach.

"We still have a lot to play for right now and I think a big win against Notre Dame would be a great consolation and get us moving in the right direction," he said.

Putting the TCU game in the past, though, will be difficult. A lot of dreams were lost.

Whittingham, however, is determined to move on and not let a hangover from the loss affect the team.

"That would be the most disappointing thing, if we let a loss like this affect two games rather than just the one game that took place," he said.

After taking Sunday off, the Utes reported for conditioning Monday morning.

"It was definitely kind of somber. The locker room was pretty silent. When were waiting in the auditorium here for roll call, you could probably hear the crickets," Taylor said. "Once we got in and starting warming up, guys started getting excited because we've got to get this (TCU) game out of our system, get this game out of our heads."

The effort to do so is expected to intensify throughout practices this week.

"It felt like a bad dream, really. The whole game just felt like a bad dream. I woke up yesterday and it just felt like a nightmare," Taylor continued. "But it's finally starting to sink in. I was really kind of shocked, just at the whole situation. It was a humbling experience. It makes you that much more motivated to get another win, though."

Utes on the air

No. 15 Utah (8-1) at Notre Dame (4-5)

Saturday, 12:30 p.m. (MT)

Notre Dame Stadium, South Bend, Ind.

TV: NBC (KSL Ch. 5)

Radio: 700 AM

e-mail: dirk@desnews.com

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