Posts Tagged ‘TCU’

image

I know what a lot of you might be thinking after reading that title. “The BCS is the very epitome of unfairness!” How dare a Utah fan of all people call the BCS fair?

Let me explain my reasoning.

There is an elitist culture in college football when it comes to the BCS. The haves and have-nots. The SEC is deemed strongest conference every year before the first snap in the fall. Certain geographic regions gain more attention and respect than others. Heisman hopefuls are selected before a single stat sheet is filled in.

The #1 argument against the BCS is that by selecting just 2 teams at season’s end based on what their BCS poll rank is, you run the risk of leaving an equally deserving team out of the conversation.

Let’s use the ’08-’09 season as an example.

Hindsight is 20/20. Utah finished the regular season undefeated and ranked #6 in the country. Like 2004, I was just excited that the Utes were able to play in a BCS bowl game. Before the selection of the teams, I ran over the possible opponents Utah could have faced, Texas, Alabama, and Ohio State. In all honesty, I didn’t have a lot of confidence doing a mental run down of each matchup. When Utah and Alabama were matched up for the Sugar Bowl, I thought, “Well, it was a great season. Let’s hope Utah can somehow pull this off.”

It wasn’t until AFTER Utah showed what they were capable of, beating Alabama senseless, that I started hollering for a chance at the title. But would Utah have deserved it in all reality? No.

True, they were the only remaining team in Division 1 without a loss. True, the Utes handled the same Alabama team that future champion Florida needed a come from behind victory to beat. But also true, is that Utah’s pathway through the season was much more pleasant.

I am a firm believer that anything can happen in college football on any given day. Appalachian State beat Michigan. James Madison beat Virginia Tech. These things happen. Does that mean because a team is capable of beating another team, that they are deserving of a chance at the national title? No, at least not the way the setup stands.

The bottom line is this: There are 2 spots only in the national championship game. There will be teams left out.

A team that has faced more overall talent in their field of competition throughout the year, (and anyone who follows college football recruiting knows where the most talented players flock) is more deserving of a spot in the title game than a team that destroyed and tore through teams with half the talent.

This isn’t to say that the more deserving team is necessarily more talented. For example, I think that TCU could hold its own against Auburn and come out victorious 70% of the time. However, the hardest opponents on TCU’s schedule were Oregon State and Utah, and Utah didn’t even show up for that game.

TCU showed that they were talented enough to beat BCS powerhouse Wisconsin in the Rose Bowl, but they also didn’t have to play the same strenuous schedule as Auburn did.

In the end, the real solution to the problem is, of course, a tournament and playoff system. You wouldn’t even have to get rid of the BCS bowls or their sponsors.

You can still have all the crappy 6-6 consolation prize teams play in their “Jack’s construction in Eastern Mississippi and the surrounding area.com” bowl games all in one day or week, but reserve the Cotton Bowl, Capital One Bowl, Fiesta Bowl, and the Orange Bowl for the 8 top teams selected to the tournament. You can play those games the same week as the lower tier bowls currently start, the week before Christmas.

The 4 winners then play in the Rose Bowl and Sugar Bowl as the semifinals the week after Christmas. Then, you can hold the National Championship game on New Years Day like it should be.

Advertisements

image

College football is drawing to a close. With just the BCS National Championship left (of the games we care about) it’s time for another edition of 5 things to remember and forget.

5 Things to Remember:

1. Cam Newton is not out of the woods.

If you’ll all remember the Reggie Bush saga, there were accusations and speculations regarding whether or not Bush had accepted payment for his abilities while still at USC. It wasn’t until 5 years later, long after Bush had been in the NFL, that the investigations were concluded and the sanctions laid down.

If I were the NCAA, I would have done the same thing regarding Newton with the amount of evidence present at the time. Remember, it’s much better to hold off on punishment until all skeletons are uncovered than to discipline in anticipation of finding said skeletons.

Believe me, Cam’s case is being prepared and thorough investigations are in order, even if the NCAA hasn’t gone public with each step of the process. Besides, the NCAA is benefitting greatly from Newton playing just as they did Bush. Just saying.

2. The landscape of college football changes drastically next season with the expansion of conferences.

Nebraska to the Big 10, Utah and CU to the PAC-10, TCU to the Big East, and BYU moving independent. The moves alone would be big enough, but now throw in 2 new conference championship games, the Big 12 losing their championship game, and you have a huge shake-up.

The Mountain West Conference, in essence, has become the WAC but with better lower tier teams than the WAC had. Boise State Community College will remain a BCS buster while Utah and TCU vie for an automatic bid (TCU more than likely will be conference champ favorite off the bat).

3. The SEC will remain the most elite conference.

I know, I know, the SEC gets more respect than it deserves before the season even starts, but let’s just take a quick glance at the conference rundown. The SEC has won the national championship the last 4 years in a row and has a contender in Auburn in the game this year.

The 7th ranked team in the conference was Florida. The 7th best teams in the other “elite” conferences are as follows; Big 12 – Kansas State, ACC – North Carolina, Big 10 – Michigan, Big East – Cincinnati, PAC-10 – Arizona. The best part is that only 2 teams in the SEC were not bowl eligible by season’s end. Impressive to say the least.

4. USC still isn’t post season eligible.

The reason I mention this is that Utah will be a member the PAC-12 South Division, made up of USC, UCLA, Arizona, Arizona State, and CU. Of these teams, the only one I’m concerned about is possibly Arizona, because Utah plays them at Arizona. Since USC will be ineligible for postseason play, Utah gets the conference championship slot even with second place in the division under USC.

5. Remember Boise State and Notre Dame will be the only teams likely to be BCS busters next year.

Although Boise State got a rude awakening as to how far 1 loss will drop you when you play in the WAC, having to play in the Maaco Las Vegas Bowl while other one loss teams received BCS invites, they will certainly remain a force in their new home, the Mountain West Conference.

Brian Kelly finally started getting things clicking for Notre Dame, as they destroyed Miami in the Sun Bowl in El Paso, TX. Freshman QB Tommy Rees had a great game and will be returning next season to Kelly’s offense. Should be interesting to see what he can do next season.

5 Things to Forget:

1. Forget about the WAC.

Even though they found a few teams to fill holes, they’re pulling no-names. University of Texas San Antonio, Texas State University, and Denver University will replace Boise State, Nevada, Fresno State, and Hawaii…totally balances out.

Hard to believe that the WAC used to be home to Arizona, Arizona State, Utah, TCU, and BYU at one time or another the last 35 years.

2. Stanford can forget about the success they’ve seen the last few years.

Head Coach Jim Harbaugh is likely headed to the NFL, and starting QB Andrew Luck is surely headed to the NFL as well. Likely destinations for Harbaugh include the Denver Broncos, working under Stanford alum John Elway, the 49ers in nearby San Francisco, or even the Miami Dolphins.

Luck will be the #1 overall pick in the 2011 draft in all likelihood. Sorry Stanford.

3. Forget about the SEC national championship streak.

Oregon plays at a pace Auburn hasn’t seen yet. Sure, Auburn will get theirs, but as I’ve said all season, Oregon might not be the most completely balanced team (like TCU) but they are the nations most unbeatable team. Their offense is outstanding and they don’t slow down. Even if Auburn can keep it close through 3 quarters, they won’t for 4.

4. BYU can forget about long-term independence.

The minute the Big 12 decides to replace Nebraska and Colorado, BYU will be at the top of the short list of candidates.

If not for weakness in all categories other than football, Boise State would be considered with the Cougars but the Big 12 does have SOME pride in it’s academics and sports outside football. Can you picture Kansas vs Boise State as a basketball conference game? Yikes.

5. Forget about the good old days when college football news consisted of stories and reports on the game itself.

With ESPN Sportscenter, 24/7 news and blog updates, Twitter, Facebook and endless other media outlets, the stories that get the most face-time are the scandals, firings, and drama. Fans can only read about the game itself so many times before needing to search out other forums with more debatable topics than the stats and highlights.

In reaching the final chapter of this college football season, hopefully we can all remember the history and memories made in 2010 and forget our teams’ struggles and move forward with hopes of a brighter twenty-11.

image

What a year 2010 turned out to be in sports. From the Alabama Crimson Tide winning the national championship to the Giants winning the World Series.

2010 saw Tiger Woods’ first full calendar year without notching a single victory, neither in majors nor non-major events.

2010 was host to both the Winter Olympics in Vancouver and the World Cup in South Africa. Surprisingly, South Africa seemed to handle the role better with seemingly less to work with. Really, the only negative throughout the World Cup were those Vuvuzelas (they haunt my dreams).

2010 was the year of the media. Endless talk of where LeBron James would play the ’10-’11 season and beyond hijacked every sports radio station, column, channel, etc. until finally, it built up to “the Decision”, a poorly thought out plan by the LeBron James group to publicly announce his contract plans live on ESPN.

“The Decision” badly backfired when James chose against returning to Cleveland, where he was drafted 6 years ago, and left to play in Miami with Dwayne Wade and Chris Bosh. The backlash was instant in Cleveland and soon even the media, which profited greatly from “the Decision” threw James under the bus, calling his actions classless, selfish, and pretty much all the things the audience was wanting to hear.

Nearing the end of the year, and with the season under way, many of the media are forgiving of James and are more focussed on his play on the court.

2010 was a shaky shaky year for college football. It started with expansion rumors out of the Big East and the Big 10. The Big 10 fired first, inviting Big 12 member Nebraska into their ranks. Nebraska accepted the invite. The PAC-10, not to be outdone, fired next. They invited Colorado, Texas, Texas Tech, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, and Texas A&M. Colorado was the only school to accept. They later invited the University of Utah, who gladly accepted.

BYU, being passed over and no longer sharing a conference tie with rival Utah, left for far greener pastures as an Independent in Division 1A football, and far browner pastures in everything else, joining the West Coast Conference in all other sports.

TCU left for the Big East, and the top half of the WAC in football shifted over to the Mountain West Conference, to fill the holes left by the power trio that had, for nearly a decade, ruled the top of the conference.

Cam Newton burst onto the scene, dominating all in his way to winning the Heisman trophy and leading the Auburn Tigers into the national championship game. Looming over his accomplishments, however, were allegations that he was involved in a pay for play scheme with his father and an agent. Cam was ruled eligible for lack of evidence that he knew anything about the scheme. Let’s hope 5 years from now that we don’t have another Reggie Bush situation.

2010 was the year of the pitcher in the MLB. Roy Halladay, Tim Lincecum, Cliff Lee, and numerous others were in the spotlight this season. The Giants’ pitching staff received praise all season and they showed why. Solid pitching and late season play from Rookie Buster Posey led the Giants into the playoffs and hot bats at perfect times in the World Series sealed the deal for them.

The Lakers won their 2nd straight title, beating the Celtics and avenging their 2008 defeat in the finals to that nearly identical Celtics team.

Jimmie Johnson won his 5th straight Sprint Chase for the Cup title in a row (first ever to do so).

The UConn women’s basketball team broke the once thought impossible win streak record of 88 wins, set by the UCLA men’s basketball team under coach John Wooden. The lady Huskies’ record ended at 90 games.

All in all, a very crazy year. Can’t wait to see what 2011 brings.

image

As the lower tier bowl games kick off, it becomes clearer that the end of another action packed college football season us quickly approaching.

Alabama and Ohio State were listed as preseason #1 and #2, respectively, and were expected to win out and play in the national championship game. Current #2 Oregon and #1 Auburn had other plans.

#3 TCU, with a preseason ranking of #7, watched every team in front of them lose throughout the season, while they stayed undefeated. Yet, they didn’t have the same strength of schedule that Auburn and Oregon had to push them over the #3 hump.

Arkansas, Ohio State, and Stanford will also play in BCS bowl games as at-large picks with the Horned Frogs.

Wisconsin will represent the Big 10 against at-large TCU in the Rose Bowl.

Big 12 champion Oklahoma will face Big East champ Connecticut in the Fiesta Bowl.

ACC champ Virginia Tech will play at-large Stanford out of the PAC-10 in the Orange Bowl.

At-larges Arkansas and Ohio State will face off in the Sugar Bowl.

Fiesta Bowl: Oklahoma vs UConn

I’m not sure how I feel here. 75% of the bowl-eligible teams this season are more deserving of a BCS bid than UConn. Still, Oklahoma is notorious for losing the big games under Stoops. Oklahoma has lost the last 5 BCS bowl games they’ve played in (including 3 national championship appearances).

UConn could pull an upset larger than the one Boise State pulled over Oklahoma in ’06, but I don’t see it happening.

Oklahoma wins 45-17

Sugar Bowl: Arkansas vs Ohio State

This should be a good game that pits the Ohio State defensive unit against Ryan Mallett. The X-factor, as always, will be Terrelle Pryor. Pryor tore Oregon apart last  year in the Rose Bowl. If Pryor can bring that same performance, even Ryan Mallett won’t be able to do enough to beat the Buckeyes.

Ohio State wins 35-24

Orange Bowl: Virginia Tech vs Stanford

This could end up being the hardest game to call. Stanford’s defense might be the best since Boise State that VT has faced. Stanford is used to the speed that V-Tech plays with, being from the speedy PAC-10.

Tyrod Taylor and Andrew Luck will be the difference makers here. The quarterback that has the bigger game, will be the winning quarterback.

Stanford wins a close game 35-31

Rose Bowl: Wisconsin vs TCU

Mark my words , this will be a replay of the ’09 Sugar Bowl. Wisconsin is coming in with a smash mouth, in your face run game, and a solid defense. TCU is coming with the nation’s best defense and a high powered, speedy offense.

TCU will jump out early and win by 14, 31-17.

National Championship game: Auburn vs Oregon

Offense, offense, offense. Cam Newton vs LaMichael James. I like Oregon in this game for the same reason I like TCU over Wisconsin. Oregon is going to go 100mph for 60 minutes, whereas, Auburn will gas trying to keep up with them. Cam Newton will get his, but accounting for 5 TDs might not be enough, unbelievable as that might be.

Oregon wins its first ever national championship 42-38.

image

It’s crazy to think that the college football season is already at its end. Bowl invitations have been accepted and fans are either holding on, trying to squeeze each remaining drop from the season (me), or they are already trying to put this season in the rear view mirror and focus on bright hopes of tomorrow.

The first article I ever wrote for 4th and 1 Sports was back  on July 21, 2010 entitled “Mountain West Conference Preseason Rankings“.

I realize this article was extremely biased and as the season has gone along, I have tried to remain unbiased (apart from rivalry week of course).

What I want to focus on more than anything are the predictions made and how things turned out.

TCU:

Prediction – #1
Actual – #1

TCU showed that defense wins championships. The Horned Frogs and Coach Patterson were just one possession away from being conference champions in ’08, which would have meant this year’s championship would have been a three-peat. Now, its off to the Big East for TCU, where they will likely challenge for that conference title the next 5 years.

Utah:

Prediction – #2
Actual – #2

Utah definitely showed improvement from last year on the offensive side of the ball. Jordan Wynn, apart from the last 4 games he played with a hurt shoulder, has grown more into his leadership role. More than anything, though, was the emergence of the young Utah defense. The Utes should take enough weapons with them from this team into the PAC-12 to make an immediate impact in the conference.

Air Force:

Prediction – #3
Actual – #3

Air Force, as always, proved to be a well oiled machine of a team under Troy Calhoun. They stuck to their option play and the Falcons again ended the season among the top rushing teams. Air Force also moved up a spot in the ranks from where they normally reside, #4 behind Utah, TCU, and BYU in no particular order, but this being a rebuilding year for the Y, Air Force took advantage and beat BYU for the first time in a while, claiming 3rd place in the Mountain West.

San Diego State:

Prediction – #6
Actual – #4

San Diego State started to come on late last season and it led me to believe that they would be a little better in the Mountain West this year, but I had no idea they would be this improved. BYU and Wyoming (predicted #4 and #5 respectively) struggling this year more than anticipated did not help my cause either.

BYU:

Prediction – #4
Actual – #5

I thought BYU having to replace Max Hall, Dennis Pitta, Harvey Unga, etc. would account for a few hiccups to start the season. I never imagined the disorder that would arise from the Cougar camp early on. The 2 QB system, losing to Air Force, Nevada, but worst of all losing Utah State were definitely the largest set backs. Although I didn’t figure BYU would have a .500 season, struggles were bound to follow them a little.

Colorado State:

Prediction – #7
Actual – #6

Colorado State started the season with a loss to rival CU. In conference play, they had wins over UNLV and New Mexico but were Wyoming’s single victory in conference.

UNLV:

Prediction – #9
Actual – #7

UNLV had another sub-par season in football. Its 2 wins in conference came over the bottom two teams, New Mexico and Wyoming.

New Mexico:

Prediction – #8
Actual – #8

New Mexico again has a 1 win season, with their win coming over the last place MWC spot, Wyoming. That does NOT make the league look good. Especially, when one of your losses was to New Mexico State of the WAC.

Wyoming:

Prediction – #5
Actual – #9

Wow, I did not see this one coming. Then again, I didn’t see CSU dropping off the map last season after a good start. I thought the way Austyn Carta-Samuels played last season, he would lead the Cowboys to middle of the pack again.

So with that, we leave the Mountain West Conference for football.

I can honestly say that I will always remember rushing the field after the 2008 victory over TCU, always remember the freezing game in Laramie, WY when the lights went out  in 2004 and we sat in the freezing cold for 2 hours. I will never forget hitting a deer with my car at 3 AM driving back from Vegas after the win over UNLV. I will always cringe when thinking about having to play Air Force. I will always remember watching Robert Johnson intercept CSU quarterback, Grant Stucker 3 times to steal a victory for the Utes.

Utah has played some great games as a member of the Mountain West Conference and hopefully, they will do the same in the PAC-12.

image

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.

image

Kyle Brotzman. The poor guy! He was called on to the make the game winning field goal with 2 seconds left in the 4th quarter.

He pushed the kick wide right, sending the game to OT.

Nevada won the toss and decided to play defense first. Kellen Moore had a pass dropped by Titus Young in the end zone. Boise then ran the ball for a loss of 2 yards. On 3rd and 12, another TD pass was dropped by Titus Young, after being tipped by a defender.

With no choice but to put at least some points on the board, Boise State went right back to Brotzman. This time, he pulled the kick left and missed again!

Nevada conservatively ran the ball 3 times and freshman kicker Anthony Martinez drilled the kick to seal the deal and the Wolf Pack spoiled Boise State’s national championship dreams.

More than that, it’s very likely it’s ruined Boise’s chances of playing in a BCS bowl game at all.

The way the automatic bid for a non-aq team works is this, a non-aq team must finish in the top 12 BCS rankings and finish higher than an automatic bid conference champion. If they meet these criteria, they get an automatic BCS berth.

No non-AQ has ever received an invite to play in a BCS bowl with a loss on their schedule. If Boise gets an at-large bid, they will be the first.

Because Nevada was ranked #19, Boise quite possibly will fall below 10th place.

Also hurting their chances for an at-large bid is TCU.

The Horned Frogs have finished their second consecutive regular season undefeated and will clinch the non-aq auto bid for the BCS this season.

image

Another dramatic week of college football is in the books. Both Oregon and TCU had closer-than-wanted games. Utah struggled on offense again, only managing 3 points and turning the ball over 3 times.

Let’s start with Oregon. Man, did they look out of form. Only scoring 15 points was something I didn’t think they were capable of, but even more than that, I didn’t think that Cal’s defense would be able to hold the Ducks to less than 40. All great teams prove their greatness by  showing they can scrape out a win, and Oregon did just that on the road.

TCU also had a near scare this week when they faced off against San Diego State at Fort Worth. San Diego State led 14-13  aster the first quarter. After falling behind 40-28, the Aztecs scored a TD late in the 4th to make the final score 40-35. Fortunately for TCU, that was the hardest challenge they had remaining on their schedule. San Diego State hosts #23 Utah next week.

Speaking of Utah, they continued their offensive struggles in South Bend as they lost to the Irish of Notre Dame 28-3. The Utes held Notre Dame on 4th down for a turnover on downs, on their first possession, and moved the ball well on their way to a FG, putting them up 3-0. Those would be the only points the Utes scored the rest of the day as the Irish converted 3 TDs on 3 Ute turnovers.

Auburn’s offense outplayed the Georgia defense to keep their national championship dreams alive. Both Auburn and South Carolina secured spots as the SEC West and East champions, respectively, and will play in December to decide the champion.

Wisconsin posted an astronomical 83 points on Indiana and is a favorite to win the Big 10 this year.

The stories to keep an eye on down the stretch will be whether Oregon can get back into their offensive groove by the time they play their rival, Oregon State, and whether or not allegations against Cam Newton turn into anything with substance that would force Auburn to bench their superstar.

Next week should all but secure the final standings for the conference champions or at least the championship contenders for championship week in December.

image

As most of you know, this weekend was rough for me. I watched as my Utes (coaching staff and players) played their worst football in the same game that TCU played their best of the season. It was an emotional day that left me drained and thus I have slacked with updating the blog and I hope you can forgive me.

Anyway, lots to recap this week. First and foremost, congratulations to the TCU Horned Frogs for stepping up in a big time atmosphere on defense and on offense. Andy Dalton had a career day, completing 21 of 26 passes for 355 yards, 3 TDs and 0 INT.

#1 Oregon and #2 Auburn also won in dominating fashion over their respective opponents Washington and Chattanooga.

#6 Alabama, who had been receiving National Championship hype this week, lost to #10 LSU 24-21. Even if Auburn were to lose to Alabama in a few weeks, Bama now has two conference losses and would not play in the SEC championship game.

#8 Oklahoma also experienced a heartbreaking upset at the hands of conference foe Texas A&M by the score of 33-19.

Texas Tech upset #12 Missouri 24-17 after being down 17-10 at halftime.

Florida State’s struggles continue as they lose a close one 37-35 to depleted UNC. More painful than anything has to be to 2 botched field goals in the 4th quarter by the Seminoles.

The most interesting games being played this next weekend would have to be #1 Oregon at Cal, #14 Utah at Notre Dame, #23 South Carolina at #22 Florida, and USC at #18 Arizona.

image

Utah over Pittsburgh. Jan. ’05: Groundbreaking. Boise over Oklahoma, Jan. ’06: Instant classic Utah over Alabama, Jan. ‘09: Mind opening. TCU at Utah Nov. 6th 2010: Revolutionary.

Now, let’s not kid ourselves here. If you replace the names, ”TCU” and “Utah” with any other BCS conference school names, given the #3 and #5 rankings next to those names, and anyone can tell you this game has huge national championship implications this late in the season. Well, with TCU, and especially Utah filling those blanks, those implications might turn out to be imaginations.

But just how big is this game, really?

For the second consecutive year, ESPN’s “College Gameday” will be at the site of TCU/Utah. Both teams enter this game ranked in the top 16 for the 3rd consecutive year. And for the 3rd straight year, the winner if this game will have stamped their BCS ticket.

Last season, “College Gameday” went to Fort Worth to watch the Utes get roughed up on the road by the faster, stronger, Horned Frogs.

This year, the Utes are firing on all cylinders and looking to prove that they earned that spot in the PAC-12 next season.

The history between Utah and TCU is brief but intense.

The first time this game really meant something was in Nov. 2008. TCU came into Salt Lake City ranked #11, their sole loss coming against national champion runner up Oklahoma. Utah came into that game undefeated and ranked #10. “College Gameday” was not in attendance that weekend, although I bet they wish they had been.

TCU lead Utah from their opening 2 drives, scoring a field goal and TD, respectively, within the first few minutes. Utah crept back with a field goal in each of the first 2 quarters and went into the locker room at half down 10-6. After a scoreless 3rd quarter, TCU had 2 opportunities for “short” field goals. Anyone who loves college football or lives in MWC country knows TCU’s freshman kicker missed both FGs, gave the ball back to Utah with a few minutes left, Utes scored late to make it 13-10 Utah, and then held off Andy Dalton’s ensuing 2 minute drive to secure the win.

This year will have 2 similarly talented teams (little differences here and there), each with its own goals in mind.

Utah has the most prolific and talented bunch on offense they have seen in a long time. Did you know Alex Smith’s back up in ’04 was freshman Brian Johnson? Can you imagine how season-ending an injury to Smith would have been in that scenario? This season’s Utes are deep. Everywhere.

QB Jordan Wynn is the most efficient starting QB in pass completion in the conference at 69.1%. Oh, and our backup? Yeah, Terrance Cain is sitting at 76.6% with 6 TD and 0 INT in 2 games started. The RB core is solid with Matt Asiata and Eddie Wide III. The Utes WRs are speedy and talented and when Wynn and his receivers are in their rhythm, there’s no stopping them.

Defensive Coordinator Kalani Sitake has turned a question mark for the Utes this preseason into an exclamation mark. The Utes tout one of the best rush defenses in the nation and one of the best scoring defenses as well. Strong Safety Brian Blechen had a huge game against Air Force last week and shows signs of previous greatness at that position (Morgan Scalley, Eric Weddle, Robert Johnson to name a few).

TCU is bringing the best defense in the nation, once again, into Rice-Eccles Stadium. ’08 was a battle of top defenses and Utah scratched and clawed their way to victory. This season’s matchup will not only feature those same great defenses, but also explosive offenses.

Andy Dalton is showing why he was selected as the preseason MWC player of the year. He has led this speedy Horned Frog offense to an average of 40.8 points per game. Utah boasts 45.3.

The main difference, though, between this year and years past, respect. Sure, a 1-loss team like Alabama or Nebraska might be able to use strength of schedule to jump TCU, Utah, or Boise State, but look where it’s come from.

In the past, 1-loss teams would just stay around the top and the Utah’s and TCUs were unable to move past them, no matter how poor the victories were for the 1-lossers. Now, entering week 10, two-thirds of the way through the season, teams like Alabama do need their strength of schedule to jump a non-AQ team ranked #3, #4 and currently #5 in the nation.

Utah’s season in 2004 under Urban Meyer was revolutionary. It opened the eyes of many BCS apologists and has opened doors for others like Boise and TCU to follow. Coach Whittingham took the reins in 2005 and has continued the winning tradition.

Coach Kyle Whittingham would charge Hell itself with a bucket of water. And TCU…will be bringing Hell with them.

As college football turns its eyes toward the mountains, remember. TCU and Utah have proven that they deserve to be recognized with the big boys. This is the highest in the BCS polls that 2 non-AQ teams have ever been when playing each other.

Remember that Utah is headed for the PAC-10(12), BYU is leaving to go Independent, TCU likely will head to the Big East, and Boise State is coming to fill in those big shoes in the Mountain West Conference. All this due to success on the national stage. What will their next excuses be to dismiss this group when the “easy” teams on our conference schedule…are them?

We fought the naysayers, we fought their rules and their champions, and we’ll fight for dear old Crimson for…a Utah man am I. Go Utes.