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Utes' 20th bowl appearance comes at Super Bowl site

SANTA CLARA, Calif. — Utah has now made 20 bowl appearances. The Utes reached the milestone in their Foster Farms tilt with Indiana. They improved their bowl record to 16-4, 9-1 under head coach Kyle Whittingham, with Wednesday's 26-24 win over the Hoosiers..

“We have a good record, and winning makes the bowl trip a lot more fun. It really does. The kids enjoy all the stuff and we try to have a good balance,” said Utah athletics director Chris Hill. “But it's really been fun that the teams have been able to perform well and end the season on a positive.”

Hill appreciates the effort shown by the program over the years. The Utes have prevailed in 13 of their last 14 bowl appearances.

“My hope is that’s just the way we want our athletic department to be. We don’t want to take any game that’s not important,” Hill said prior to kickoff. “We want to put our best foot forward whenever we can and not take any of this stuff for granted.

He added that playing in Levi’s Stadium, being in San Francisco and appearing on national television is pretty cool.

“We want to do well,” said Hill, who noted that the Utes have good habits in terms of going to bowl games often (11 since 2003) and performing well.

“We’ve been able to have a good time,” he continued.

SUPER SITE: Wednesday’s game at Levi’s Stadium marked the first time since the Poinsettia Bowl (San Diego) in 2009 that the Utes made a postseason appearance on an NFL field. The San Francisco 49ers host and operate the Foster Farms Bowl.

“It’s fun to come to a place like this that I haven’t been. It’s fun to watch the kids talk about being in a pro stadium,” Hill said. “So each one is different. Each one is fun in its own way.”

Whittingham said he’s not sentimental about such things. However, he acknowledged that it’s fun for the team to play in places they see on TV.

EXTRA POINTS: Senior cornerback Dominique Hatfield did not play. On Monday, Whittingham said Hatfield failed to meet expectations and standards of the program. Hatfield did accompany the team to the Bay Area and led the scout team. … Senior receiver Cory Butler-Byrd did not make the trip because of an undisclosed injury. … Scouts from the NFL’s Houston Texans, Indianapolis Colts and 49ers were credentialed for the game.