Well, the 2010 college football regular season is over. The BCS bowl games are set, and for the third straight season, the Utes will finish with 10+ wins and 2 victories over rival BYU in those 3 seasons.
Here’s the Utes season review.
Utah started the 2010 season with a home game against #15 ranked Pittsburgh.
Utah’s offense was able to run the ball with split carries between Seniors Eddie Wide and Matt Asiata.
The defense gave up a couple big plays that let Pittsburgh erase the Utes lead late and force overtime. True freshman Brian Blechen stole the game from the Panthers with his first interception of his career coming on Pittsburgh’s first offensive possession in overtime. Utah sealed the victory with Joe Phillips’ field goal.
For the next 6 games (UNLV, @New Mexico, San Jose State, @Wyoming, @Iowa State, and Colorado State), Utah averaged 51.2 points and held those opponents to an average of 11 points.
During that streak, Utah climbed to #8 in the BCS rankings.
At 7-0 (5-0), Utah headed to Colorado Springs to face in-conference rival Air Force. The Utes/Falcons game carries with it an aura. Every fan expects a close, hard fought battle, and this game was nothing different.
The Utes beat up on the Falcons in the 3rd quarter, offensively, and Air Force turnovers throughout the game equated to a Utah victory.
It was anything but a cake walk, however, as the Utes endured 2 blown coverages on defense that lead to Air Force TDs and a Joe Phillips field goal attempt that hit the uprights and bounced out.
As is often the case with Utes football teams over the years, the defense held strong to secure a Utah 5 point victory.
At 8-0, #5 Utah set to host #3 TCU and ESPN’s College Football Gameday.
Without question, this was one of the biggest football games in Utah’s program history. A win would put Utah in position to step into the national title game.
Offensive struggles matched with flawless play by the Mountain West Conference champion TCU Horned Frogs, on both sides of the ball, produced an embarrassing, upsetting, and heart breaking loss for the Utes.
The struggles on offense continued through the next week at Notre Dame as Utah managed only 3 points on their first possession and didn’t score again.
Facing a tough road game at San Diego State, many thought Utah would be in for their 3rd straight loss. Judging on how well the Aztecs had been playing up to that point, a Utah loss did seem likely, if no adjustments had been made.
Well, something did change. The team started finding success here and there, from a hail mary TD pass to Kendrick Moeai, to a blocked punt deep in Aztec territory that lead to Utah’s go ahead touchdown run from Eddie Wide in the 4th quarter.
That victory gave Utah confidence heading into their rivalry game against BYU in Salt Lake City.
BYU entered Rice-Eccles Stadium with a 6-5 record, having beaten New Mexico the week before to make the Cougars bowl eligible.
Both teams seemed to have issues getting anything productive on offense, especially the Utes. Time and time again, Utah would go 3 and out or have their drive end on a turnover.
A fortunate combination of BYU miscues, poor clock management by Cougar offensive coordinator Robert Anae, a booth fumble review in Utah’s favor, offensive production for the Utes, and a miraculous field goal block by Brandon Burton equated to Utah’s 2nd victory over BYU in the last 3 years. Utah claimed bragging rights for the last match up between the two as conference equals.
Now, Utah faces the biggest bowl game challenge since Alabama in the Sugar Bowl, following the perfect ’08 season as they will face the Boise State Broncos in the Las Vegas Bowl. A victory would be a gigantic boost for Utah recruiting going into the PAC-12 next season.
4th and 1 Season Awards:
Offensive MVP – DeVonte Christopher
Defensive MVP – Brian Blechen
Special Teams MVP – Shaky Smithson
Players to watch next year:
Brian Blechen – This guy is for real. Blechen was drafted for his outstanding athletic ability at Quarterback and Linebacker in high school. He hits like a truck and is always in the right place at the right time.
Reggie Dunn – Can you say fast? This guy has a gear most players don’t. Look for him to step up into Shaky Smithson’s shoes as primary kickoff and punt returner. Also, look for the Utes to use Dunn in the slot and in the option to capitalize on his quickness.
DeVonte Christopher – Look for Christopher to continue as the most productive receiver for the Utes.