Weber State - Utah TV viewer guide
Game day: September 7, 11 a.m. PT
Stadium: Rice-Eccles Stadium - Salt Lake City, Utah
Weber State - Utah TV information: Pac-12 Networks
Story lines: The Utah tour of teams from the Beehive State and the Pac-12’s early-season battles with Big Sky schools continue with this matchup between the Utes and Wildcats. This game will mark the second of all three non-conference games Utah has against other schools from Utah (Utah State and BYU the others) and one of seven contests between Pac-12 and Big Sky schools. Albeit the level of competition is significantly different, it was a loss to a Utah School (an overtime defeat to Utah State) in the second game of the season that was the first domino to fall in a 5-7 season that had the Utes missing the postseason for the first time in nearly a decade. And, for a guy who feels the pressure from within, you know Kyle Whittingham will not let his boys overlook any opponent in the process.
Counting up six wins on the schedule always includes doing some work in the non-conference slate for a team trying to get back into the bowl season. While Weber State isn't the biggest non-Pac name on the Whittingham ledger in 2013 by any stretch of the imagination, every win counts, and a loss against an FCS school isn't how the Utes want to head into their conference opener against Oregon State. Speaking of which... it gets significantly tougher for Utah after this game against Weber State, as Utah will face teams that qualified for a bowl game in 2012 in its next eight contests. Included in this daunting stretch is its first game against Stanford as a member of the Pac-12, followed by road games against Arizona (which knocked Utah out of bowl contention last year) and USC. Two games (three weeks) later, Utah travels to Autzen Stadium with a home game against Arizona State sandwiched in between. No rest for the wicked, huh?
[Related: 2013 Utah football schedule]
The Big Sky is one of the premier conferences at the FCS level, but the Wildcats were not one of the reasons why last season. Weber State will look to improve upon a 2-9 campaign and make it to the FCS playoffs for the first time since 2009. Of course, at least some of that 2-9 record had to do with then-head coach John L. Smith leaving Weber State for Arkansas the previous spring before he even coached a game there, thus making Jody Sears the interim head coach. The interim tag has since been removed, and the folks in Ogden like Sears’ class and positive attitude despite being unable to lead the Big Sky ‘Cats to a winning season in his first go. The Wildcats are no strangers to FBS opponents, regularly playing two teams from college football’s top subdivision (in that 2009 season, they lost by one possession to both Wyoming and Colorado State, the former of which was a bowl team that year). Trying to thwart Dennis Erickson and Brian Johnson’s offense will be second-team all-Big Sky linebacker Anthony Morales, the anchor of the Wildcat defense who finished third in the nation in tackles per game last season as a junior. One of the dudes who will be trying to punch a hole in Kalani Sitake's defense will be running back Bo Bolen, who is back from a two-year LDS mission and was an All-American as a frosh in 2009.
[Related: Get tickets for the Utes home football games]
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