Wednesday, January 7, 2009

The best Ute team ever?

This will be the first and last time that I actually dedicate a post to the Ute football team in order to give them credit for being a great team.  

Before the season started I went on record saying that I felt they would be a good team, but thought in regular Ute fashion they would squander a game away somewhere in the season as a result of their own undoing.  At times they came close to proving me right but in the end were able to hold to their perfect record and put a exclamation point in dominating fashion onto a outstanding season.  To go undefeated is no easy feat, especially when you have to finish it off by beating one of the best teams in the SEC to do it.  

As I watched the game it brought to mind a couple of different questions about this team, questions that are still being thrown around the radio today.  Is this team better than the 04 team, and are they really deserving of being voted #1 in the polls?  Interestingly enough, my answer for both questions is the same for the same reason. 


As great as this team is, and they truly are great, they struggled at times during the regular season to barely hold on to victory.  A two point win over a 3-9 Michigan team, an end of the game touchdown to beat out Air Force and a 3 point win over New Mexico are examples of games when this team struggled against average or less than average opponents.  Not to mention the TCU game where the Utes were fortunate/lucky to come away with the win. 

My point is, the 04 team rolled through their schedule.  They dominated opponents game in and game out, leaving no room for criticism.  They hit the ground running from the very beginning of the season and never slowed down.  Unfortunately for them, they were never given the chance to prove how good they really were on the nations biggest stage.  

The 08 team on the other hand was slower in progressing.  They've peaked at the right time, and are playing as good of football as anyone now, but it wasn't sustained throughout the entire season.  At times they looked less than stellar.

Listen, the truth of the matter is though that they really are an amazing team worthy of a top five finish.  Should Ute Nation be clamoring for a #1 ranking?  You bet.  I don't think they are the best team though, but don't blame K-Whit and the fans for arguing the point.  I would be doing the same if it were the Cougars.  

I still wouldn't put them as the best Ute team of all time, and if I had a vote for this years champion they wouldn't get mine over OU, Texas, USC or even Florida.  I think they could hang with them and on a given Saturday possibly pull off a win, but they weren't consistent enough for me over the whole season to count them as college football's best.  One of the best, yes.  But not the best.

In any regard, it was an amazing season that has all Cougar fans red with envy.  The last time BYU had a season that is even close in comparison was back in 96 after knocking of K State in the Cotton Bowl.  They finished with one loss and #5 in the final polls.  The Utes have more than matched that twice in the last 5 seasons.  

Utah isn't just a basketball school anymore.  Who's the big brother now?  

Reality Bites!


Dr. P said...

Let me play devil's advocate or present the other side of this argument. Rick Reilly also presented this in an article today on espn (pearls of jam for details).

Utah has not lost a game. They beat every team they played. Rankings are not static, they change weekly, and the final rankings of the year should reflect that. Was Utah in the discussion for a number 1 ranking all season when they were barely beating an air force or new mexico? no. and rightfully so. However, Right now, are they arguably the best team in the country? maybe. you can only take how they are playing right now to rank them. that is how it works. let us look at the course of the season with each of the teams that are arguably better than Utah.

1-USC, they have one loss this year to Oregon State, who lost to Utah. equal opponent. different outcome.

2-Texas, they also have one loss this year, to a good texas tech team who lost badly to mississippi in their bowl game. Texas also struggled to pull out a last second win against a mediocre 2 loss Ohio state team in the fiesta. Is this team better than an undefeated Utah team that dismantled Alabama in what was a virtual home game in luisiana?

3-Florida, here is the only argument that has some strength. Florida lost to a decent Mississippi team, but demolished everyone else with the exception of Alabama which they pulled out in the fourth quarter. But the whole year argument that you are presenting doesnt hold water for Florida because they do have one loss. to mississippi.

4-Oklahoma, Oklahoma has one loss to Texas, who barely squeeked by Ohio State. Oklahoma also has played no one outside of their conference this year. way to go out on a limb stoops. Oklahoma has also not played anybody with a decent defense this year outside of TCU who held them to their season low in points.

Long story short, Utah's best argument is that they beat everyone they played, and that included 4 ranked teams topped by the team that held the #1 ranking for 5 weeks out of the year. What else could they do? I guess to get some people's vote, you not only have to go undefeated, you have to blow every one out of the water.
I agree that the Utah Team of 04 was probably better, but were never given the opportunity to play a top tier team that year.

If I were to vote, I would rank them at least #2 of not #1. No way would I rank USC, Texas, or possibly Oklahoma over them. we'll know more thursday night.

SittinDeadRed said...

Somebody has got to be the devil, it might as well be a Ute. J/K.

Put Oklahoma for example in Utah's schedule. Do they go undefeated? If not, who do they lose to?

Does OU travel to Michigan and only win by two points? How about at Air Force? Do you really think it would take them a late scoring drive to put the falcons away? OSU? I don't see the Beavers knocking off the Sooners in Norman considering the last 58 out of 60 teams (somewhere around there) couldn't do it. TCU? We saw what they did to them. That game was never in question. Their season low was still 35 points. Nobody is accusing the Frogs of giving that one away. How about at New Mexico? I don't see it being a three point game when that thing is all said and done? Alabama? Maybe, but if the Utes fast paced, no huddle was too much for the Tide, how could they match the highest scoring offense in NCAA history that only runs the no huddle?

Texas? Who on the Utes schedule knocks off the Long Horns?


You're best argument is USC. USC had one bad game the whole year which happened to be against a team that nearly, and in all honesty, should have knocked off the Utes. Credit the Utes for hanging on, but the Beavers didn't help out their own cause.

The Utes had a handful of bad games but got away with it because they came against weak teams. OU, Texas, Florida and USC weren't that fortunate.

The Utes had a special team this year. They're playing as well as anyone right now but it took awhile for them to get to that point. They picked a good time to hit their stride. Could they hang with any of those teams? You bet, especially if Kyle is given a month to prepare.

As good as they are though I still don't put them above the 04 team and they still aren't my #1. They're still pretty damn good though.

Tikes said...

The simple fact is this.....they won every game. That's it.

Nobody else could do it.

Texas, OU, Florida, and USC all found a way to lose at least one game, when they probably should have won, and Utah is the only team that found a way to win every game even when they probably should have lost at least one..... which means, logically they are the best.

SittinDeadRed said...

I saw a team that struggled in 5 games, 3 of which came against some pretty bad teams. They didn't play like champions for a good portion of the season. I'll give them a pass on the TCU game and even the OSU game, but the best team in the nation shouldn't have to hold on just to barely beat a horrible Michagan team, a middle tier MWC team in Air Force, and a weak Lobo team.

I think a number of those teams you listed end up undefeated with Utah's schedule. I don't think that is too illogical to say either. If you don't think so, tell me who beats who and why.

Vice versa, I don't see the Utes running the table in the Big 12 south. I don't see them remaining undefeated in the SEC. I'm not even sure they finish undefeated in the PAC 10. You have 5 sub par games in any of those conferences and I would bet you are going to lose one of them somewhere along the way.

Had the Utes played the way the 04 team did then I would be more of believer. I don't necessarily need them to blow out all of their opponents, but don't struggle with the soft part of your schedule.

Yes they are playing some great football to end the season. But so is every single one of those other teams.

It all comes down to perception. There is no logic allowed in college football rankings.

I don't have a problem with them arguing there case. The disparity between 1-5 is going to be pretty small.

SittinDeadRed said...

Of course, BYU was deserving of their National Championship back in 84.

I just thought I would get that out their before anyone brought it up.

Dr. P said...

look at it this way, if oklahoma goes undefeated with Utah's schedule they are playing in the national championship game, same with texas, florida, or USC. Those teams if undefeated would always play for the title, but not Utah or BYU for that matter. no matter what they did in all their games. All your arguments about Utah's close games are valid, however, the rankings are for the current week, or right now. Utah may be #1 or #2 right now.

SittinDeadRed said...

That's hard to argue.