There's not much of a secret to Utah's bowl success. The Utes simply take great pride in performing well. They've won eight straight postseason games, the longest active run of success in the nation.
"I think it's our players' work ethic and the way they approach the bowl," said Utah coach Kyle Whittingham. "It's a reward, but at the same time they view it as an opportunity to win another game."
Finishing on a high note is a big deal. Coming out flat — even after heartbreaking setbacks to rival BYU in regular-season finales — just doesn't happen. "Our guys have done a nice job of showing some resiliency in those cases where we haven't come out on top," Whittingham said.
Senior captain Zane Beadles expects more of the same. The 23rd-ranked Utes (9-3) enter this year's Poinsettia Bowl against California (8-4) on the heels of a 26-23 overtime loss at BYU. Beadles doesn't expect any sort of letdown. "I don't think so with the way we approach bowl games," he said. "Bowl games are a reward, an honor, but we're there to win the ballgame. That's the approach we take. You can see it in the intensity in practice." Safety Joe Dale, one of 24 seniors on the squad, said there's a responsibility and a process to keep the streak going.
"It's motivation, definitely. To have the longest streak in the nation, that's a big deal," he noted. "It says a lot about our coaches, our program and the way we prepare. We just want to keep that going." Even those new to the program respect the streak. True freshman Jordan Wynn said it's huge. "I don't want to go down as the quarterback that loses it," he explained. "So I'm doing all I can to win our bowl game."
Utah's preparations kick into high gear Monday. The Utes will practice six times next week — five in Salt Lake City and once in San Diego.