Utah Utes football notebook: Utes are eager to tackle the Broncos' challenge

Published: Sunday, Oct. 4 2015 1:55 a.m. MDT

SALT LAKE CITY — Utah coach Kyle Whittingham is quick to note that challenging bowl games are nothing new for the Utes.

As such, they aren't shying away from the tall order of taking on highly touted Boise State in the MAACO Bowl Las Vegas on Dec. 22 — even if it puts Utah's nine-game bowl winning streak at serious risk.

"I think any competitor likes the opportunity to play against top-notch competition," Whittingham said. "And that's certainly what we get in Boise State."

The Broncos (11-1), he added, are a great team from top to bottom with no weaknesses and a lot of playmakers on offense and defense.

"They weren't ranked in the top five in the country for as long as they were for no reason," Whittingham said. "They're an outstanding football team."

So good, in fact, to be mentioned in national championship discussions until a 34-31 overtime loss at Nevada on Nov. 26.

The Broncos are 60-5 since Chris Petersen became the head coach in 2006. Like Utah, they've busted the Bowl Championship Series twice — defeating Oklahoma and TCU, respectively, in Fiesta Bowl games in 2007 and 2010.

"We've got a great deal of respect, obviously, for Boise State and what they've done not only this year but the past several years," Whittingham said. "I think Chris Petersen is one of the best, if not the best, coach in all of college football. He's done a phenomenal job with their program."

WYNN UPDATE: Starting quarterback Jordan Wynn will have his season-ending shoulder surgery on Dec. 13. The sophomore will then face a six-month rehab, causing him to miss all of spring ball.

It's unknown exactly when Wynn damaged his shoulder. Whittingham said it probably started with the Iowa State game on Oct. 9 and was re-aggravated in the BYU game on Nov. 27.

"Nobody knows for certain," Whittingham said.

CAIN IS ABLE: With a 9-1 record as Utah's starter, quarterback Terrance Cain isn't exactly inexperienced.

"He's got a proven track record," Whittingham said. "This is his chance as a senior to go out with a bang and we're hoping he does so."

Cain reclaims his starting job in the MAACO Bowl Las Vegas in place of Wynn.

"We feel good about Terrance," Whittingham said.

NO EXCUSES: Whittingham refuses to dwell on the injury losses of Wynn and starting left tackle John Cullen.

"Everyone in the country deals with injuries, and we'll never, ever make excuses about why we didn't do well or whatever because of an injury," Whittingham said. "That's not our deal."

HEAD HONCHO: Utah alum Marilyn Winn oversees day-to-day operations of three major Las Vegas resorts, including Planet Hollywood, where the Utes will be headquartered for the MAACO Bowl Las Vegas. Winn, who earned bachelor's and master's degrees from the U., is also in charge of Bally's and Paris on the Strip.

EXTRA POINTS: A Tennessee radio station is reporting that Vanderbilt made an unsuccessful pitch to Whittingham about coaching the Commodores. … The Utes are scheduled to practice Wednesday, Friday and Saturday this week. … Fans wishing to sit in the Utah section at the bowl game are encouraged to buy their tickets from www.utahutes.com.

MAACO Bowl Las Vegas

No. 20 Utah (10-2) vs. No. 10 Boise State (11-1)

Dec. 22, 6 p.m.

Sam Boyd Stadium,

Las Vegas


Radio: 700 AM

e-mail: dirk@desnews.com

Copyright 2015, Deseret News Publishing Company