Arizona football: Visit to Utah no picnic for opponents

2012-11-16T00:00:00Z 2014-08-07T17:51:30Z Arizona football: Visit to Utah no picnic for opponentsRyan Finley Arizona Daily Star Arizona Daily Star
November 16, 2012 12:00 am  • 

Ka'Deem Carey has never been to Salt Lake City, set foot in Rice-Eccles Stadium or played Utah on the road.

But the Arizona Wildcats' star running back already knows what's coming.

"It's cold. It's loud," Carey said this week. "Those are the two things that catch in my brain."

Arizona (6-4 overall, 3-4 Pac-12) will face Utah - and a quadruple team of factors beyond their control - Saturday night at a raucous Rice-Eccles. The Utes (4-6, 2-5) must win their final two games to become bowl-eligible; they'll also be celebrating senior night - and, probably, the extension of a three-season sell-out streak.

Arizona will have to contend with plenty during its first-ever Pac-12 road game in Salt Lake City. Such as:

• The weather. Forecasts call for 45 degrees and overcast at kickoff, with the temperature dipping to about 40 by the end of the game. The cold can be jarring for teams that aren't used to it.

From a practical standpoint, punter Kyle Dugandzic says, there's a bigger issue.

"The biggest thing we're going to have to do is get mentally prepared for the ball feeling like a rock," he said. "It did last year at Washington, and it was only 45 degrees. We're going to have to do jumping jacks on the sidelines to stay warm."

Dugandzic has been scouring the weather reports this week so he'll know what to expect against the Utes. The weather was similarly cold last year at Colorado; Dugandzic also had to contend with 50mph winds, the result of a winter storm.

He prefers to be as informed as possible.

"It's just mental preparedness, but you can't change what you do," he said. "If you try to change what you do, it'll change what happens."

• The elevation. Rice-Eccles Stadium sits 4,657 feet above sea level; among Pac-12 stadiums, only Folsom Field (elevation: 5,360) is higher.

UA tight end Drew Robinson, who grew up just outside Salt Lake City, said Utah's "good home-field advantage" stems from the elevation. The lighter air makes it harder to breathe. The elements could make it harder for Arizona to run its no-huddle offense.

"I think that the altitude does have a lot of advantages in the Pac-12 because a lot of teams and players are from California," he said. "They're not used to the altitude."

• The crowd. The Utes have sold out 17 consecutive games dating to 2010, with 10 of them being played before larger-than-capacity crowds. Even if the Utes fail to sell out Saturday's game - a few hundred tickets are still available - they'll be assured of a fifth consecutive season with an average crowd of more than 45,017.

The MUSS (Mighty Utah Student Section) is among the largest and loudest in the league. The Wildcats can neutralize the home-field advantage by starting hot. The UA has been outscored 69-47 in the first quarter this season.

"People have talked about the altitude, and it's supposed to be cold and windy and all that, but our biggest thing is to go fast," UA guard Trace Biskin said. "If we can establish ourselves from the first quarter on, it'll help us do better the rest of the game."

• The team. A home-field advantage can only get a team so far.

Unfortunately for Arizona, Utah has been absolutely stellar lately. Consider: Since the last time the two teams played in Salt Lake City, in 2005, Utah has gone 68-31 and played in seven bowl games, including a Bowl Championship Series game.

Arizona, meanwhile, has gone 47-48 and played in the postseason three times.

The Utes' success isn't just a home thing. They ruined Rich Rodriguez's Michigan debut in 2008, defeating the Wolverines 25-23 at The Big House.

"I caught a lot of grief about it, as you can imagine," said Rodriguez, now the UA's head coach. "Then they wind up being undefeated and beating Alabama in a bowl game. … We thought when we played them that 'boy, this was a pretty good team.' I thought they'd win a lot of games. They ended up winning 'em all."

On StarNet: Check out the latest UA football news conference at

Up next

• Who: Arizona (6-4, 3-4) at Utah (4-6, 2-5)

• When: 8 p.m. Saturday


• Radio: 1290-AM, 107.5-FM

The Rodriguez Report

UA coach Rich Rodriguez's injury report and team captains for this week's game against Utah:

Injury report

• Out: S Wayne Capers Jr. (illness), LB Hank Hobson (neck), DE Dominique Austin (foot, season-ending), WR Terrence Miller (foot, season-ending).

• Doubtful: OG Chris Putton (concussion)

• Questionable: None

• Probable: QB Matt Scott (concussion), S Jourdon Grandon (concussion), DE/FB Taimi Tutogi (neck).

Team captains

• G Trace Biskin, QB Matt Scott, DL Willie Mobley and P Kyle Dugandzic.

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Pac-12 South football standings

  Conference Overall
Arizona 7 2 0 0.778 10 4 0 0.714
USC 6 3 0 0.667 9 4 0 0.692
UCLA 6 3 0 0.667 10 3 0 0.769
Arizona State 6 3 0 0.667 10 3 0 0.769
Utah 5 4 0 0.556 9 4 0 0.692
Colorado 0 9 0 0.000 2 10 0 0.167

Pac-12 North football standings

  Conference Overall
Oregon 8 1 0 0.889 13 2 0 0.867
Stanford 5 4 0 0.556 8 5 0 0.615
Washington 4 5 0 0.444 8 6 0 0.571
Cal 3 6 0 0.333 5 7 0 0.417
Washington State 2 7 0 0.222 3 9 0 0.250
Oregon State 2 7 0 0.222 5 7 0 0.417
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