Why not Utah?

I went to bed last night wondering if there was any way I couldn’t vote Utah #1 on my last Mumme Poll ballot.  The only thing I can come up with that might give me pause for thought would be the unlikely scenario in which Oklahoma kicks the everlovin’ crap out of Florida in the BCS title game.

Otherwise, consider that

  • The Utes finish the season as the only undefeated team in D-1;
  • They played a credible schedule, with wins over three ranked teams and two other BCS conference schools (and only played one 1-AA school); and
  • They were more dominant against ‘Bama than Florida was, never trailing in the game and winning by a greater margin.

As for those whining about Texas and Southern Cal getting screwed by the BCS, the former looks diminished in the wake of Texas Tech’s loss to the fourth best team in the SEC and the latter lost to a school that Utah beat.

Right now, I don’t see anybody with a better resume than Utah.

As for the game last night, quite simply, Nick Saban got outcoached.  It was clear early on that his team wasn’t prepared for Utah’s overall speed on both sides of the ball and by the time the Tide started adjusting on defense, Alabama was in a 21-point hole that it could never quite dig out from.  On the other side of the ball, Utah took to heart something that I wish Willie Martinez had realized – the key to beating Alabama is making John Parker Wilson ordinary with relentless pressure.  ‘Bama’s offensive line woes made that job easier, true, but Utah deserves credit for going there to start with.

Stewart Mandel wrote a stupendously stupid column after Boise State’s win over Oklahoma in the Fiesta Bowl about how that game changed college football forever.  That was an entertaining game, but not a paradigm changer, as Hawai’i showed a year later.  Last night’s game, on the other hand, has the feel of something different.  It wasn’t fluky.  It wasn’t driven by a bunch of trick plays that offset a large talent gap.  Utah belonged.


UPDATE: Mark May really should quit trying to predict Sugar Bowl outcomes (h/t The Wiz of Odds).


Filed under College Football

22 responses to “Why not Utah?

  1. You beat me to the punch – I just posted similar comments. I will be voting Utah number one in my BlogPoll ballot barring something amazing next Thursday.


  2. Joe

    I also was thinking after the game that Utah is the #1 team in the country. Very good schedule and they flat-out whooped Bama in a pseudo-home game for the Tide.

    I think Ufk and Auburn should be scratching their heads for not going after Whittingham. Utah is four years removed from CUM and is better now than they were then.


  3. Jim from Duluth

    I had a similar thought over on DR last night. Question is, will the advertisers who pony up the big $$$$$$ for the BCS (and would be asked to ante up even more if some kind of playoff ever comes) go for Utah’s performance last night over media darling perception?

    Also have to mention – what about Bama folding like a cheap suit after just two losses (suspension, then injury) at one position. What a bunch of crybabies! Magnify that by at least 5 and you have our problems this year.



  4. Joe

    I would also like to say that last night was the first time I have felt alright about our 2008 season. Seeing what happened to Bama without Andre Smith made me feel better.

    Although Sturdivant won’t be the #1 pick, he will certainly be a 1st round pick, and could be top 10. Regardless, he was arguably our best offensive player and losing him absolutely crushed us and destroyed our OL continuity.

    My attitude when it happened was that we would just plug Kiante Tripp or Vance in and not miss a beat. Obviously, you just cannot replace a player that good, and last night made that crystal clear for me.


  5. Last night’s game made me appreciate our coaching staff that much more, specifically the performance they engineered in last year’s Sugar Bowl. Alabama looked like a) they didn’t want to be there, plain and simple, and b) they had no respect for Utah’s players whatsoever. Georgia could’ve gone up against Hawaii with the same attitude, but we didn’t. Hell, we could’ve gone up against Michigan State with that attitude. Granted, Utah ’08 is substantially better than either of those teams, but still.


  6. MJ

    Utah was brilliant in the first quarter last night. Those kids were flying around all over the place and played with a lot of emotion… very aggressive.

    Johnson was accurate in a big game, which is sometimes a difficult thing for a QB. The receivers did a great job as well. Many, many superlatives all the way around.


  7. Brandon

    I agree 100%, Utah should be #1


  8. ceph

    Forget UGA ever trying to put pressure on opposing teams with the blitz as long as
    Richt is there. Didn’t you guys read what
    Richt said after the game? And I quote, “I love to put pressure without blitzing baby, thats what our defense has always been about.” I don’t understand it and I will never understand it,
    why he is so rigid in his thinking about blitzing.. The best defensive teams in the country are teams who utilize the blitz as one of their primary defensive weapons.


  9. Ally

    “Georgia could’ve gone up against Hawaii with the same attitude, but we didn’t. Hell, we could’ve gone up against Michigan State with that attitude.”

    I was thinking that exact same thing last night as I sat stunned watching Bama implode. We’ve had our moments of apathy for sure, but I’m thankful last year at the Sugar we didn’t get complacent about being kept out of the mnc game. We played like we had something to prove & we did.

    Also after seeing the performance in the Capital One Bowl in comparison to Bama’s performance, I’m extremely grateful our players didn’t get frustrated and quit.

    Bama’s loss of their LT wasn’t the reason they lost – they have enough talent & coaching expertise to overcome that. They lost on BOTH sides of the ball, remember. They lost because, like Doug said, they didn’t think they would. They didn’t respect Utah.

    They do now I bet.

    On that note, I will NOT vote Utah #1 on my Mumme ballot. They didn’t beat the #1 or #2 team in the country. I can’t take away an mnc from floriduh or oklahoma given their schedules, their tight losses to top conference opponents, their wins in conference championship games, and the strength of their opponents in the mnc game.

    Sorry, close but no cigar from me.


  10. JasonC

    Richt is right. If you can get pressure with just your front four, it is much better than bringing a 5th or 6th defender in to get a pass rush. That leaves you with 7 players to defend against the run or pass and doesn’t give the QB as many open targets.
    The problem this year is that due to injuries or lack of talent, we didn’t have a front four that could do the job. We didn’t have a Pollack, Charles Johnson, Moses, etc. to get a strong pass rush.
    Blitzing is an effective tool, but it probably shouldn’t be your primary defense. Ask Marion Campbell.


  11. Irishdawg

    “Obviously, you just cannot replace a player that good, and last night made that crystal clear for me.”

    See Dorsey, Glenn. LSU was not the same team defensively when he was hurt last year. When he came back, they mauled Ohio State’s OL. Now I’m not saying Jeff Owens is Dorsey’s caliber, but losing him plus various injuries to the DEs and the linebackers could be what crippled our defense this year. (Not that I’m defending or condemning Martinez)


  12. Hobnail_Boot

    Holy overreaction, Batman!

    You’re going to have a hard time convincing me that a team with UNLV, Utah State, Weber State, Wyoming, Colorado State, New Mexico, and San Diego State on its schedule is worthy of being ranked #1. I know every team plays at least one or 2 creampuffs, but that’s 7 tasty morsels spread out between their tougher games.

    What Utah did last night was certainly eye-opening and commendable, but it doesn’t place the Utes in the national title picture. If this system allows for a team from a non-BCS conference to win the national title, then I hope Damon Evans immediately drops Oklahoma State, Oregon, Clemson, etc. from future schedules and replaces them with UT-C, Coastal Carolina, Villanova, etc.


    • HB, I don’t think it’s much of an overreaction.

      A quick check of Sagarin shows the following pre-bowl SOS: Penn State, #61; Alabama #58; Utah #70. I expect the Utes’ final number to be in the top half of the country. That’s respectable enough for consideration, IMO.


  13. Heyberto

    Alabama’s lack of respect for Utah reminded me of the 05/06 Sugar Bowl in Atlanta where we went up against WVU expecting to own them, and we got outcoached and outplayed. It just looked like we tried a helluva lot harder to come back than Alabama did…


  14. Ally

    Senator, am I missing something here? On that pre-bowl SOS link you posted it shows Bama 0-1 vs. top ten opponents. When they whipped us in Athens we were ranked #3 in the country if I’m not mistaken.


  15. Ally, Sagarin goes by current rankings, not rankings at the time the game was played.


  16. Macallanlover

    Legitimate question Senator, why not Utah? Auburn is the “poster boy” for getting screwed for us not having a playoff, but Utah has a decent case. No, they didn’t play an SEC level schedule, but they played as much talent as Penn State, USC, and Ohio State did during the regular season. Had any of those “power programs” won them all, the people who believe in the current system would have no issue with giving them the faux title this year.

    Add Utah to the teams that demonstrate why the Plus 1 would not work this year. If Oklahoma upsets Florida, Texas, USC, and Utah have a solid case against OU. Coiunt me as one that will not rule out voting for Utah as my #1 in the final Mumme Poll.


  17. Ally

    Gotcha, thanks. Well that seems fair. Explains why our SOS ain’t as strong now, lol.


  18. “If this system allows for a team from a non-BCS conference to win the national title…”

    Then why let them in a BCS bowl in the first place? That says to me, “We’ll let you play ball with the ‘big boys’ but you won’t get anything more than a pat on the back if you win.”

    It’s just asinine that we don’t have a separate division for the non-BCS conferences since they are excluded from the so-called national title before the season even begins.


  19. Sarah Jessica Parker Wilson is horrrrrrrrrrrrible.


  20. In my view, the Utah Utes are the 2008/2009 National Champions.

    They are the only undefeated team.

    They beat the only other team to go undefeated in the regular season.

    It was darn near a home game for Alabama (compared to Utah).

    They beat them far worse than Florida. Against Florida, Alabama lead until about 9 minutes to go in the 4th quarter. Utah never trailed, and had a commanding 21-0 lead at the half.

    This season is an even bigger indictment of the BCS than Auburn in 2004.


  21. I don’t have a vote, but if I did Utah would probably get it!