SALT LAKE CITY
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> No. 20 Utah (1-0, 0-0 MWC) hosts UNLV (0-1, 0-0 MWC) in the Mountain West Conference opener for both teams on Saturday, Sept. 11 at 2 p.m. in Rice-Eccles Stadium. The game will be televised live on the Mtn. Radio is ESPN700 AM (espn700sports.com).
> Utah's home win streak now stands at 18 games after a 27-24 overtime victory over Pitt last Thursday. It is the second-longest home win streak in school history. The school record of 26 was set from 1928-34. Utah's current home win streak dates back to a Sept. 15, 2007 victory over 11th-ranked UCLA.
> Utah's 18-game home win streak is the third-longest active home win streak in the nation behind Oklahoma (31) and Boise State (26).
> Utah is ranked No. 20 in both the Associated Press and USA Today Coaches' polls. It marks Utah's first appearance in the A.P. poll this season. Utah was ranked No. 24 in the first coaches' poll.
> UNLV was also Utah's first conference opponent (and second opponent of the season) in 2008. The Utes won that game, 42-21, in Salt Lake City on Sept. 6.
> Utah leads the series with UNLV 13-2, including a 7-0 advantage in Salt Lake City. See box on page 2 for more series information.
> Utah's win over Pittsburgh was its 20th over a BCS school since the Bowl Championship Series began in 1998. In its final year in a non-automatic qualifying conference, Utah has more wins against BCS teams than any other NAQ program and is 20-11 overall against the BCS since 1998. (For more, see BCS Success later in this release).
> Ute receiver DeVonte Christopher and safety Brian Blechen were named the MWC offensive and defensive player of the week, respectively. Christopher led Utah with a career-high 155 receiving yards, while Blechen, playing in his first collegiate game, had five tackles and an interception in overtime.
DID YOU KNOW?
Saturday's game marks the third time in four years that the Utes will play the Rebels coming off big wins against BCS teams. In 2007, the Utes beat No. 11 UCLA, only to lose to UNLV the next week. In 2008, Utah followed up a win at Michigan with a victory over UNLV. This Saturday, the Utes host UNLV coming off a win over No. 15 Pittsburgh.
True freshman safety Brian Blechen
intercepted a Pitt pass in overtime and Joe Phillips
made a 21-yard field goal to give Utah a 27-24 win over the 15th-ranked Panthers. The third-largest crowd in Utah history (45,730) watched the 24th-ranked Utes take a 24-13 lead midway through the fourth quarter when Jordan Wynn
and DeVonte Christopher
hooked up for a 61-yard touchdown pass. But Pitt scored 11 unanswered points to send the game into overtime. Utah finished with 405 yards to Pitt's 266, and the Ute defense held Heisman candidate Dion Lewis to 75 yards rushing. Wynn passed for 283 yards and three touchdowns, and Christopher had a career night with eight receptions for 155 yards. In his first start, Chaz Walker
led the defense with a career-high 11 tackles.
OUTSIDE THE LINES
, who coached Utah's corners last year, is now the assistant head coach, pass defense coordinator and defensive backs coach at UNLV ... At the start of the week, a limited number of tickets still remained for Saturday's MWC opener against UNLV ... The 45,730 fans in attendance at last week's game made up the third-biggest crowd ever to watch a football game in Rice-Eccles Stadium. It marked the 19th time since Rice-Eccles Stadium opened in 1998 that the crowd has exceeded the seating capacity of 45,017 ... A pre-game tribute will be made to victims of 9/11, with fire, police and military personnel on hand for a moment of silence and a release of red, white and blue balloons in Rice-Eccles Stadium.
INSIDE THE HUDDLE
Quarterback Jordan Wynn
is day-to-day with a sprained thumb, while linebacker J.J. Williams is questionable (foot) and running back Sausan Shakerin
(concussion) is out ... Utah has three Las Vegas natives on scholarship: running back Eddie Wide
, receiver DeVonte Christopher
and offensive lineman Jeremiah Tofaeono
. Wide (2006) and Christopher (2007) were both Nevada Gatorade Players of the Year, while Tofaeono was first-team all-state as an offensive and defensive lineman ... Converted quarterbacks made big contributions at their new positions in last week's win over No. 15 Pitt. Christopher, now a receiver, had a career-high eight receptions for 155 yards; linebacker Chad Manis
had four tackles and a pass breakup in his first start; and true freshman starting safety Brian Blechen
made five tackles and an interception in overtime ... Five true freshmen played in Utah's season opener: Blechen, Wykie Freeman
, Mike Honeycutt
, Joe Kruger
and Westlee Tonga
... Utah played two brother combinations in the first game: running backs Matt and Shawn Asiata
, and defensive linemen Dave and Joe Kruger