Tom Smart, Deseret News
Michigan coach Rich Rodriguez, left, congratulates Utah counterpart Kyle Whittingham after Saturday's game.

ANN ARBOR, Mich. — Three letters: BCS.

That's all it took for Utah coach Kyle Whittingham's demeanor to change after Saturday's 25-23 victory over Michigan at the Big House.

The season-opening victory drew an expected media inquiry.

Are the Utes thinking about the Bowl Championship Series?

"Absolutely not. That's not even in our vocabulary," Whittingham said. "That is absurd to talk in those terms right now. We've played one good football team and got a win on the road, which is nice. There's 11 games left."

Utah is taking things one game at a time, he added, with next week's conference opener against UNLV topping the list.

Whittingham did concede, however, that the Utes have a shot of cracking the national rankings this week. They entered the game No. 28 in the coaches poll and 29th in the AP Top 25.

"We were just knocking at the door, I guess," Whittingham said.

"We'll find out."

While noting they can only "control what you can control," he turned his attention back to Saturday's game at Rice-Eccles Stadium.

"Our focus is our conference-opener," Whittingham said. "We've got to get a good start out of the gate in conference play."

The Utes haven't been ranked in the Top 25 since finishing the 2004 season at No. 4

IN THE FUTURE: It may be several years, if ever, before the Utes and the Wolverines meet again.

Saturday's contest was a one-time deal, an agreement that paid Utah $800,000.

Utah athletics director Chris Hill said so many variables are involved and it may take a lot longer than people think to set up another game with Michigan.

"We're pretty well scheduled out and they're scheduled out," he explained. "So we'll just have to see, in the next couple of years, if it's something that makes sense for us."

Hill acknowledged, however, that the two games Utah and Michigan have played since 2002 (both in Ann Arbor) have helped build a relationship between the schools.

EXPOSED: Television wasn't the only national attention the Utes received. A color photo of Whittingham and linebacker Nai Fotu appeared on the cover of the Weekend Wall Street Journal. It appeared with a story lauding the Utes and rival BYU for winning on a budget.

"That just came out of the blue. The guy called up, came out and wanted to visit," Hill said. "Any time we can get national exposure for our program it's a positive, especially in a paper like that. It's a unique opportunity."

CHEERING THEM ON: Utah Jazz guard Ronnie Price, former Utes Luther Elliss and Anthony Brown and men's basketball coach Jim Boylan were among the familiar faces on the Ute sideline.

INJURY UPDATE: Defensive tackle Kenape Eliapo and safety Robert Johnson were injured in the game. Whittingham said the status of both players was being evaluated. Defensive coordinator Gary Andersen said Lei Talamaivao and Deshawn Richard did a nice job stepping in for them.

NEARLY A RECORD: The announced attendance was 108,421 — the second-largest crowd ever to see the Utes play. It nearly topped Utah's first visit to Michigan in 2002 when 109,734 packed into the Big House.

The Wolverines, who have led the nation in attendance for 33 of the past 34 years, extended their streak of home games with crowds in excess of 100,000 to 209. The streak began after 93,857 attended a 55-7 win over Indiana on Oct. 25, 1975.

CARR HONORED: Former Michigan coach Lloyd Carr, who was replaced this season by Rich Rodriguez, received a standing ovation at halftime when he received the Bobby Dodd Coach of the Year award.

In a ceremony earlier in the game, the Wolverines honored alums Bob Chappuis, Ron Kramer and Dan Dierdorf. The former All-Americans served as honorary game captains and were present for the coin toss.

EXTRA POINTS: Utah is now 65-49-1 in season-openers, including an 18-30 mark on the road. ... Michigan's record in home-openers fell to 106-28-2. ... The Utes and BYU are the only current Mountain West Conference teams to ever defeat the Wolverines. ... Michigan Stadium is undergoing a $226 million renovation and expansion that is scheduled to be completed before the 2010 season. ... Both teams are in the first year of new uniform contracts. Michigan signed an eight-year deal with Adidas and Utah inked a five-year agreement with Under Armour. ... Rodriguez is the first Michigan coach since Gary Moeller in 1990 to suffer a loss in his debut at the helm. Bump Elliott (1959) is the only other Michigan coach to lose his first game. The program's 14 other head coaches all started off with victories.


E-mail: dirk@desnews.com