When Utah and Wyoming meet tonight at Rice Stadium (7 p.m.), the contest could turn out to be a case of the the Irresistible Force vs. the Immovable Object.
The Cowboys sport one of the nation's top rushing teams, led by 241-pound fullback Ryan Christopherson, who ranks second in the nation with a 182-yard per game average. He's the Immovable Object.The Irrestistable Force is the Utah defense, which ranks 3rd in the nation in rushing defense (45 yards per game) and 5th in total defense.
Something has to give, out on the Astroturf tonight.
"Our goal is to stop their running game," said Ute defensive coordinator Fred Whittingham. "They have a great running game and a great scheme. They've been averaging nearly 300 yards a game. They'll be tough to play."
"This should be an interesting matchup because we have been moving the ball effectively and they have been stuffing the run" said Wyoming coach Joe Tiller. "We are going to have our plate full, no question about that."
One of the largest crowds in Rice Stadium history could be on hand. It should at least be the largest in the 1990s, topping the crowd of 33,515 at the 1990 BYU game.
Utah officials are expecting a sellout if the weather stays nice. All of the reserved seats are gone and less than 4,000 general admission seats were still available as of midday Friday.
Ute fans are excited about the team's best start in nine years and the Cowboys always bring a strong contingent of fans from Wyoming. The Ute faithful are hoping this year's team is for real after being disappointed by hot Ute starts in recent years.
While the defense has been the glue to the Utes' three victories, they also have a potent offense waiting to get untracked. Even though he ranks 8th in the nation in total offense, Utah quarterback Mike McCoy hasn't been pleased with his play so far because of his inconsistency.
Still McCoy has completed 66 percent of his passes for 745 yards and six touchdowns and three interceptions.
The Ute running game looked good against Utah State and lowly Idaho State, but was stopped in its tracks last week at Oregon.
"We'll have to run the ball better than we did against Oregon," said Ute coach Ron McBride. "We weren't physical enough up front."
The Utes have four good running backs to choose from - Rob Hamilton, who has rushed for 179 yards and four touchdowns, Juan Johnson, who has rushed for 173 yards and five touchdowns, Charlie Brown, whose 6.1 average is tops on the team and Sylvester Cooperwood, who sat out last week with an ankle injury, but is OK now.