UTEP – After a season where Utah was ranked by many as one of the best in the country, the Aggies will go home to play a Pac-12 team on Saturday.
Auburn is the conference’s No. 2 team and the Aggie defense is ranked in the top 10 in the conference for the third straight year.
Utah’s defense, led by head coach Rich Rodriguez, has held its own at the top of the league.
“We’re going to play the best team in the Pac-10,” Utah head coach Jim McElwain said.
“We know we can play at a high level.
We just have to be able to find a way to get there.”
Utah’s defense allowed just nine points in the last two games.
It was its first loss of the season, but the defense held the Aggores to 38 points in an overtime loss on Sept. 10.
The Aggies were up 35-28 in the third quarter.
The first-year coach said that was the team’s first turnover of the year, but it was his team’s third in three games.
“The second-half turnover was huge,” McElwarain said, noting that he has made adjustments in the second half of games.
“When you lose in overtime you’re trying to do whatever you can to try to get back in the game and I just thought that the turnovers were really big for us.”
Utah won the last three meetings in Utah, including a 31-23 victory on Nov. 1 in Salt Lake City.
The win is Utah’s second straight against the Cougars and its sixth straight at home.
The Cougars (9-4, 4-4) are coming off a victory at Stanford on Thursday.
The Aggies opened the season 2-1 on the road against a team that was coming off an impressive win over USC in the Rose Bowl.
The two teams met just once in the regular season, in a 52-14 loss on Nov, 25.
The game was a blowout.
Utah lost the next game, 34-10, on Sept, 12.
Utah finished the season with the second-most points in conference play.
That was followed by a 33-13 win over the No. 10 ranked USC Trojans on Sept., 15.
The victory over the Trojants marked the second consecutive victory for Utah and a victory over a Pac 12 team.
The Pac-11 is the league’s top conference after it won its first seven games, including two in the season’s first seven weeks.
The Pac-14 and the ACC each are unbeaten in conference action.
The season opener against Arizona State will be played at 5:30 p.m.
ET on ESPNU.
The Utah-Arizona State game will air live on the Pac 12 Network at 5 p.p.m., and the Pac 10 Network at 6 p.g.
For the Pac 9 schedule, go to www.collegefootball.com.