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Utes riding 3-game winning streak vs. Pac-10 squads

Over the past two seasons, Utah has had great success against the Pac-10 Conference — going 3-0 with wins over California, Oregon and Arizona.

The victories benefitted both the Utes and the Mountain West Conference.

"I think it has some significance as much to the conference as it does to the program. I think it's important that the Mountain West Conference play well in non-conference games," Whittingham said. "We've had good luck against the Pac-10 the last few years, and I think that gives our conference credibility, as well as our program."

On Friday, Utah can attain more when Arizona visits Rice-Eccles Stadium.

History, however, indicates that the Utes may be in for a battle against their former WAC rival. The Wildcats haven't left Salt Lake City with a loss since 1972. They've won the last three meetings in Utah, prevailing in 1974, 1976 and 2000.

UTES READY: Whittingham said the Utes will maintain the exact same pregame routine they had during the Urban Meyer era.

"We're locked and loaded right now," Whittingham said after Utah's practice Wednesday at Rice-Eccles Stadium. "It's the 48-hour rule, we call it, where nothing's on our mind but football — from right now until we kick off on Friday night. No distractions, we're just focused in."

The Utes, he explained, have shown a great work ethic and concentration in their workouts. They'll have a closed walk-through today.

"We are ready to go," Whittingham said. "It's time to line up and play."

Speaking of which, senior wide receiver John Madsen is expected to play Friday after a quicker-than-expected recovery from a hamstring pull.

RECORD BROKEN: Utah's season-ticket sales record fell by the wayside Wednesday afternoon. Officials report that the 1998 record of 21,510 has been topped.

Even so, tickets, both season and single-game, are still available. They can be purchased at the Rice-Eccles Stadium box office, online at www.Utah Tickets.com, or over the phone at 581-UTIX.

OPERATION RED ZONE: The Utah Guerilla Marketing Team, a group of Ute fans who regularly converse on www.utefans.net, are encouraging all Salt Lake City residents and Utah fans and alumni to wear red on Friday. The grass-roots effort to show support will include a pregame luau tailgate party near the Eccles Tennis Center and the handing out of 10,000 "Enter the Red Zone" T-shirts at the stadium.


E-mail: dirk@desnews.com