SALT LAKE CITY — Red Rock fans should be in for a different kind of treat Friday as No. 1 Utah hosts No. 4 Georgia. The Red Rock faithful have enjoyed poundings over in-state rivals Utah State and BYU in the last two meets, but Friday should prove to be more of a nail-biter between the two most most successful gymnastics programs.
Georgia leads the rivalry 24-21-1, though the Utes have won the last two dual contests. The two teams are peaking at the same time with Utah scoring season highs on three events last week, while Georgia posted season bests on all four of its events. The efforts helped both teams jump three spots to their current rankings.
"Being number one is fun, but it puts a target on our back," said Utah co-head coach Greg Marsden.
No team would be happier to knock Utah out of that top spot than its heated rival Georgia. The Bulldogs' lone dual meet win in Salt Lake came in 2006 as part of an undefeated championship season.
Marsden said his team isn't approaching the meet any differently from others, but is excited to have his team challenged as it was in its opener against UCLA.
"What we can't do is begin to change our approach, and focus on the outcome. We know a tenth of a point could make a difference so we need to stay true to our focus for what we're trying to accomplish and not worry about what's going on around us," said Marsden.
The test likely will be in the third and fourth events. Utah ranks No. 1 on the beam with Georgia No. 2, but Utah holds a huge advantage on floor where the Utes are ranked No. 1 and the Bulldogs No. 11.
"I think this is a special team," said Marsden. "The pasts couple of years we were not as strong or as deep. This year we are very deep on all of our events and we can get big scores from one-through-six, and the people backing up the starters. We haven't been in this situation in a while.
"It's also a fun group. They are talented, hard working and want to be coached. I think the coaches and athletes see this about our team, and the fans are starting to as well."
OTHER MEETS: Utah State, Southern Utah and BYU are also in action this weekend. Friday night, Utah State hosts Arizona State at 7 p.m., while SUU is at Sacramento State. BYU is at home against No. 16 Boise State at noon on Saturday.
No. 4 Georgia (3-1) at
No. 1 Utah (2-1)
Today, 7 p.m.
TV: ABC (tape-delayed on
Sunday at 11 a.m.)