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LAS VEGAS ?— When it comes to going bowling, nobody is doing it better than the Utah Utes. They enter tonight's game against Boise State with the nation's longest active streak of bowl victories.

"It's very important to us," said Utah coach Kyle Whittingham.

The Utes carry a streak of nine consecutive wins into MAACO Bowl Las Vegas, returning to the place where it all started. They began their run of success with a 17-16 win over Fresno State in the 1999 Las Vegas Bowl. It continued in 2001 with a 10-6 triumph over USC at Sam Boyd Stadium.

The streak, which is tied for the second-longest of all-time behind Florida State's record of 11 from 1985-96, has grown each year since 2003.

It's a source of pride within the program and something Utah fans can reflect upon with great satisfaction.

A look back at the current bowl roll:

1) Utah 17, Fresno State 16 (1999 Las Vegas Bowl): A 33-yard field goal by Cletus Truhe with 5:03 left to play provided the game-winning points for the Utes. Mike Anderson rushed for 254 yards and two touchdowns.

2) Utah 10, USC 6 (2001 Las Vegas Bowl): The Utes got downright defensive on Christmas Day. They held the Trojans to just one-yard rushing and sacked quarterback Carson Palmer five times while making nine tackles-for-loss.

3) Utah 17, Southern Miss 0 (2003 Liberty Bowl): A strong defensive showing lifted the Utes to victory. They made 10 stops for loss, including five sacks. Safety Morgan Scalley had a 74-yard fumble return for a touchdown.

4) Utah 35, Pittsburgh 7 (2005 Fiesta Bowl): The original BCS busters had no trouble controlling the Panthers. Quarterback Alex Smith and wide receiver Paris Warren were offensive co-MVPs, while tackle Steve Fifita won defensive honors.

5) Utah 38, Georgia Tech 10 (2005 Emerald Bowl): The Utes hit several home runs playing football at the home of the San Francisco Giants. Wide receiver Travis LaTendresse had 16 catches for 214 yards and four touchdowns.

6) Utah 25, Tulsa 13 (2006 Armed Forces Bowl): Kicker Louie Sakoda accounted for 13 of the Utes' points and was named MVP. Versatile Eric Weddle stole the show, though, with contributions on offense, defense and special teams.

7) Utah 35, Navy 32 (2007 Poinsettia Bowl): Safety Joe Dale's game-saving interception in the final minute allowed the Utes to withstand a late rally by the Midshipmen. Quarterback Brian Johnson was the offensive MVP.

8) Utah 31, Alabama 17 (2009 Sugar Bowl): Wham! And just like that, the Utes scored 21 points in the first 11 minutes en route to upsetting the Crimson Tide. Johnson was named MVP as Utah completed the season 13-0 — leaving the Superdome as the only unbeaten team in the nation.

9) Utah 37, California 27 (2009 Poinsettia Bowl): True freshman quarterback Jordan Wynn returned to his hometown and scooped up offensive MVP honors after early struggles. The Utes rallied from a 14-point deficit.

e-mail: dirk@desnews.com