Utah coach Kyle Whittingham's teams have never lost coming off a bye week. This one has provided ample time to prepare his squad for its toughest road test thus far.
The No. 10 Utes will try to improve to 6-0 under Whittingham after a regular-season bye when they face Iowa State on Saturday night.
"Our success in those situations is attributed to the players and their work ethic and focus," said Whittingham, whose record with extra time off is even better when counting his 6-0 mark in bowl games. "I don't believe that we have any corner on the market as far as preparation or what we get done, but it's about how the guys go about it. That's probably the biggest factor."
While Utah (4-0) has won 11 consecutive games against unranked opponents, Whittingham knows Saturday's matchup won't be easy against a Cyclones team that is 3-0 at home with each win coming by at least 14 points.
"It'll be a challenge for us. We have played Iowa State four times, all in the 70's, and gone 0-4," he said. "We are going there with a big challenge ahead of us but as long as our guys stay focused and have a good day of practice, we will show up and compete."
When the Utes last played Sept. 25, starting quarterback Jordan Wynn returned after missing two games with a sprained right thumb and seemed to pick up right where he left off. The sophomore completed a career-high 77.8 percent of his passes and threw for two touchdowns, playing less than three quarters as Utah defeated San Jose State 56-3.
"I felt good out there. My arm felt good," said Wynn, who threw for 283 yards and three TDs in a Sept. 2 overtime win over then-No. 15 Pittsburgh in his only other game this season.
"We are right where we need to be. We played a complete game and I feel really good about where we are."
Utah is averaging 44.3 points, tied for sixth-best in the nation, and shouldn't have issues moving the ball against an Iowa State team allowing 384.4 yards per game - 84th in the FBS.
On the other hand, the Utes' seventh-ranked defense could be tested by an Iowa State ground game which had a season-high 251 yards last week and includes mobile quarterback Austen Arnaud.
A week after playing only one series due to a shoulder injury in a win over Northern Iowa, Arnaud completed 20 of 28 passes for 190 yards and a career-high four touchdowns in a 52-38 win over Texas Tech last Saturday.
"He is a dual-threat guy," Whittingham said. "His shoulder has been injured a little - he didn't run much at all against Texas Tech, but he is very capable. He had a nice day throwing the football. He made good decisions. He's a quarterback who is much like what we see in spread offenses."
After Iowa State recorded its highest scoring output since Sept. 7, 2002, coach Paul Rhoads knows a repeat performance is unlikely against a Utah defense surrendering 12.8 points a game.
"It will be a big showcase because it comes against a top-10 opponent, and people will take notice of that," he said. "They're undefeated, they're ranked 10 for a good reason."
The Cyclones (3-2) will look to open 4-0 at home for first time in eight years, but they haven't beaten a top-10 team since Sept. 10, 2005, when they defeated then-No. 8 Iowa 23-3.
"We just have to continue to practice well," wide receiver Josh Lenz said. "If we do that, hopefully we can come out on Saturdays and keep doing the same thing."
The Utes are 28-48-3 against Big 12 foes but haven't faced one since 2004.