SALT LAKE CITY — Utah head football coach Kyle Whittingham didn't hesitate. His response was swift and somewhat stern. When asked if Friday's season-finale at Colorado would be treated like a bowl game, Whittingham made his stance clear.
"Absolutely not. This is not a bowl game. It's a regular-season game," Whittingham said while noting that it isn't his philosophy or belief to pretend or make something up. "It's another chance, another opportunity in the regular season to win a game."
Any other thoughts, he added, aren't even being thought about remotely.
"Of course we're not happy with the situation we're in right now. But it's something we have to live with. There's nothing we can do now," said junior defensive lineman Tenny Palepoi. "Like coach said, 'This isn't a bowl game for us — it's just a regular-season game.' For us, it's just finishing the season off right and ending it on a good note rather than dwelling on what happened."
Saturday's 34-24 loss to Arizona dropped the Utes to 4-7 overall, ending the program's nine-year run of bowl eligibility.
"It happened and I know none of these players on this team wanted that, or the coaches wanted this to happen this way," said quarterback Travis Wilson. "But it happened. We still have one more chance to prove ourselves and just finish out on a good note."
Whittingham said the major objective now is to send Utah's seniors out on a positive note.
And that's not all as the Utes try to avoid their first four-win season since 2000.
"I've told this team many times you shouldn't need a carrot out in front of you to play hard," Whittingham said. "It should be just for the respect of the game and the competitive fire that is within. That should be enough."
Although there's a slight chance Utah could still go bowling at 5-7 (through an NCAA contingency plan if the 70 bowl slots are not filled), Whittingham isn't worrying about it.
"We're not at five wins yet. We're at four, so we're not in the mix right now," Whittingham said. "Our goal is to try to get to five this week. If something like (the bowl situation) happens and materializes, then we'll have to take a look at it and see what the opportunity is."
EXTRA POINTS: Whittingham said Utah's struggles have not had an adverse impact on recruiting. Players, he noted, understand it's all about the future. … This will be Utah's first game against Colorado in Boulder, Colo., since 1961. … Whittingham reached out and congratulated former defensive coordinator Gary Andersen for Utah State's win over Louisiana Tech on Saturday. … Utah is tied for the national lead in fumbles returned for touchdowns with four.
Utes on the air
Utah (4-7, 2-6 Pac-12) at Colorado (1-10, 1-7)
Folsom Field, Boulder, Colo.
Friday, 1 p.m.
TV: FX Radio: ESPN 700 AMHeady goes here
Utes land 3 more commitments
SALT LAKE CITY — The Utah football program has secured three more recruiting commitments.
Devontae Booker, a 5-foot-11, 200-pound running back from American River College in California, rushed for 1,303 yards and 14 touchdowns this season.
Tevin Carter, a 6-foot-1, 213-pound safety out of Los Angeles Southwest College, is a former wide receiver who redshirted at California before switching schools and moving over to defense.
Dre'Vian Young, a 5-foot-9, 170-pound running back out of Nimitz High School in Texas, originally committed to Kansas State. His older brother, Selvin, played for Texas and the NFL's Denver Broncos.
— Dirk Facer
Email: [email protected] Twitter: DirkFacer