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Players who grew up in Utah following the rivalry with BYU know what kind of atmosphere to expect in Saturday's game, but for those who hail outside of the state, they're in for a new experience, Utah coach Kyle Whittingham said.
"The first time through it is an eye-opener for them," Whittingham said. "In-state rivalries always have a different feel and flavor than other games, but you still have to approach it the same way and with the same attitude and mentality as you do every other week. But just the intensity of the rivalry itself, you get the best from both schools."
Utah offensive lineman John Cullen said he kept tabs on the Utah-BYU rivalry as a football fan growing up in California. As soon as the Utes finished off San Diego State, he started hitting up his teammates for their descriptions of what to expect Saturday.
"On the bus to the airport I was sitting next to Zane (Taylor) talking about it," he said. "I understand I won't get the feeling until 1:30 p.m. on Saturday, but the stories I've heard about the things said and things done, I know it's going to be exciting."
Cullen, receiver Reggie Dunn and freshman starting safety Brian Blechen are the few players on the Utes' two-deep who don't have any experience in the rivalry game.
Last year, quarterback Jordan Wynn had his first go in the game and remembers how intense it was.
"I remember the locker room was by a section of fans you had to go through and the players were jawing, the fans were jawing, it was everything a rivalry game is supposed to be," he said.
He hopes his exposure to the game coupled with a home crowd will help him Saturday and perhaps rattle BYU quarterback Jake Heaps.
"Being a true freshman, it's tough to stay composed," he said. "Hopefully, Rice-Eccles will be bouncing up and down trying to get into his head."
Go get 'em
The Utes normally try to pressure inexperienced quarterbacks as much as possible and as quickly as possible in a game to see if they can coax the quarterback into a few early mistakes before they settle down.
Expect the Utes to use the similar tactic Saturday against Heaps.
"We try to mix thing things up with your pre-snap disguises and pick your pressure situations," Whittingham said. "You don't want to put yourself in too many compromising situations."
The Utes have 26 sacks this year and rank seventh nationally in defensive three and outs, averaging 4.5 a game.
In the stands
A crowd of 46,031 Saturday would give the Utes enough to break their school, single-season attendance average of 45,585 set in 2008 by one. The Utes are currently averaging 45,496 fans a game in Rice-Eccles, which has a capacity of 45,017, thanks to standing-room only tickets.
Because Rice-Eccles is an 'outside venue,' the school is allowed to go over capacity by 10 percent, meaning the max number of fans allowed is 48,564. The school must also include a staff count of roughly 1,500 in the 10 percent.
Food drive Canned food and monetary donations will be accepted at the Rice-Eccles Stadium gates Saturday to support the Utah Food Bank.
Utah's Shaky Smithson leads the nation in punt return yards (570) but has just four punt returns for 15 yards in the last five games as teams have kicked away from him.