Urban Meyer is 15-2 in his second season at Utah and 32-8 in three years as a head coach. Meyer went 8-3 and 9-3 in his final two years at Bowling Green.
UNC is the third Bowl Championship Series team Utah will face this season. The Utes are 2-0 against the BCS in 2004, beating Texas A&M (41-21) and Arizona (23-6), and 4-1 against BCS teams under Meyer.
Utah is averaging 464 yards of total offense per game, while its defense is allowing 334.
The two teams have never met before, in fact, Utah will be the first team from the MWC that UNC has ever faced.
The Utes will start out with three receivers, H Paris Warren (#5, 6-1, 211, Sr.) and X Steve Savoy (#6, 5-11, 191, So.) are both all-conference candidates and form one of the nation's top receiving tandems. Warren and Savoy rank 31st and 33rd in the country for receiving yards. Savoy leads the team in receptions (25) and touchdowns (4), and is a close second to Warren in yards (377) and yards per game (75.4). Z Travis LaTendresse (#88, 6-1, 199, Sr.), the third starter, has caught 10 passes on the year, while Savoy's backup John Madsen (#23, 6-5, 220, Jr.) has two touchdowns and provides Smith with a huge target off the bench.
Blake Burdette (#47, 6-1, 238, Jr.) and Willie Sao (#97, 6-3, 260, So.) do not factor much in the passing game, but instead give Smith and the tailbacks increased run and pass protection. Burdette has caught just two passes, while Sao has none.
Incredibly, the Utes five starters have been iron men this season, playing on nearly every down. Tackles' Tavo Tupola (#78, 6-4, 300, So.) and Makai Aalona (#70, 6-4, 304, Sr.), guards' David Dirkmaat (#74, 6-7, 308, Jr.) and Chris Kemoeatu (#68, 6-4, 338, Sr.) and center Jesse Boone (#79, 6-5, 305, Jr.) rarely ever come out of the game. Kemoeatu, an All-America candidate, had 10 knockdowns versus Air Force. The average size of the unit is over 6-foot-4 and 311 pounds per man.
Nose tackle Steve Fifita (#94, 6-0, 311, Jr.), a preseason all-conference selection, is third on the team in tackles, despite being double- and triple-teamed on most plays. He also leads the team with six tackles for loss and is the co-leader with three sacks. Tackle Sione Pouha (#90, 6-3, 330, Jr.) enjoyed a career-best 13 tackles in the Utes' 49-35 win over Air Force, including two sacks and two tackles for loss. End Jonathan Fanene (#91, 6-3, 290, Jr.) missed the New Mexico game after suffering a concussion against the Falcons, but is expected to return to duty this week. The other starter at end is Marquess Ledbetter (#55, 6-2, 245, Jr.), who has 18 tackles and ranks second on the team with five tackles for loss. Kite Afeaki (#99, 6-1, 271, Jr.) will shuffle from end to tackle and Reza Williams (#53, 6-3, 240, Sr.) will spell Fanene.
Kicker Brian Borreson (#7, 5-10, 189, Jr.) converted his only field goal try this season – a 21-yarder, which is a by-product of Utah's red zone prowess. However, the extra point execution has not exactly been automatic, as Borreson has missed three of his 25 PAT attempts. Punter Matt Kovacevich (#19, 6-0, 197, Sr.) has a 41.9 yards per punt average, with seven ending inside the 20. Waddle, the punt returner is averaging 12.4 yards per return – 24th best in the country, while Nagahi returns the kickoffs.