Until Saturday night, Utah had faced football opponents from every Division I-A conference except one—the ACC.
With North Carolina in the books, the Utes have now crossed paths with every region of the country.
The exposure, however, isn't necessarily going to open a new market for recruits.
"I think it helps recruiting when you play a name school. I think the fact that we're playing North Carolina sounds impressive. Most people know there's great tradition. The Tar Heels, everyone knows them," said Utah coach Urban Meyer. "I think if you played some school that no one heard of there's no advantage. So the fact that I'm telling a recruit from California that we're playing the University of North Carolina, then that sounds pretty good."
The same cannot be said of recruiting in ACC territory.
"We don't really recruit there. We don't have the budget. We don't have the time," explained Meyer. "Our focus is California, Texas, the islands, Arizona and in the state of Utah."
The inaugural meeting between the Utes and Tar Heels will pay dividends in other ways.
"It's just a name. I think the country enjoys it. I think there will be more watching the score than if we just played someone from the Pac-10 or the West," said Meyer. "I think it's intriguing. It's such different styles. Southern football is unique. That's why the bowl games are so intriguing—because you've got different regions playing."
Utah and North Carolina will meet again next season in Chapel Hill.
LATE NIGHT: Utah athletic director Chris Hill wasn't sure if the 8 p.m. start would hurt attendance at Rice-Eccles Stadium. It didn't take long for his concerns to dissipate.
Paced by student support that overflowed into adjacent sections, the fourth-largest crowd in Utah football history (45,319) attended the game.
Earlier in the week, Meyer said he didn't particularly like late starts but could adapt.
"I'll do whatever. I'll see what the stadium looks like," he continued before joking. "If it's packed to the walls then we'll play them all at 8 o'clock."
Saturday's game kicked off late because of the Mountain West Conference's current television contract. Utah couldn't play during the league's ESPN window (featuring New Mexico and UNLV this week) from 1-4 p.m. and then had to avoid the late afternoon ABC regional telecast pitting Colorado State at San Diego State.
"In the future we're optimistic that there won't be anymore 8 p.m. games," Hill said while looking ahead to the MWC's new deal with College Sports TV, which begins with the 2006 football season.
Meyer, though, revealed that one perk does accompany a late start. He lets his players sleep in for an extra half hour.
"We are getting real soft," mused Meyer.
JUST FOR KICKS: Freshman David Carroll made his collegiate debut with a successful PAT in the third quarter. The former Bountiful High star, who the coaching staff had hoped to redshirt, was pressed into duty when kicker Bryan Borreson was sidelined by a strained groin just by the half. The recurring injury caused Borreson to miss an extra point and end a streak of 16 consecutive conversions.
EXTRA POINTS: Cornerback Ryan Smith, who is overcoming a groin injury, played but did not start. . . . Starting defensive end Jonathan Fanene returned to action for the first time since suffering a concussion early in the Air Force game on Sept. 25 . . . Scouts from the Buffalo Bills and Cleveland Browns were in attendance . . . The Utes are a record-setting pace in terms of attendance. Through three home games, they're averaging 44,927 per contest—eclipsing last year's all-time best of 41,478.