It means that the Utes may be vulnerable. The key word there is may. Are they not as good as we thought they were? Or did they have a bad game against a team that a lot of teams play poorly against? Is it a little bit of both?
The Utes lackluster performance may take a little bit of steam off of Utah fans' hopes of knocking off mighty TCU on Saturday. Going into last week's game, the Utes appeared to at least be on par with the Horned Frogs. Now that TCU has dispactched Air Force by a score of 38-7, while Utah struggled to a 28-23 victory, the confidence coming from the Utah fans might not be as strong.
That said, Utah is still here. Still undefeated, ranked number five in the country, and with a chance to move up into the top three with a win on Saturday over number three TCU.
So what happens now? Well, if Utah beats TCU, they're likely headed to a BCS bowl game. Notre Dame isn't going to put up a fight and San Diego State suddenly can't run the ball. The BYU game could be the biggest blowout in the history of the two schools. Win out, and the Utes are in the BCS.
But they want more and it's getting more and more likely every week. Go back to this same piece last week and I predicted two undefeated teams ahead of the Utes would lose in the coming week. They both did as Michigan State and Missouri both went down.
That leaves us with five undefeated teams in Oregon, Auburn, TCU, Boise State, and the Utes. One of those gets cancelled out this weekend and relegated to the Las Vegas in the Utah-TCU game. Oregon ran roughshod all over USC and I still don't see them lose. Don't put Oregon in the BCS National Title Game in permanent marker yet, but you can make the jump from pencil to erasable pen. The closing stretch at home against Arizona and on the road against Oregon State won't be easy, but I like the Ducks to make it through. Arizona does have a formidable defense and the best pro QB prospect in the country in my eyes in Nick Foles, and Oregon State is going to be ranked and it's a rivalry game, but I doubt anyone beats Oregon. Win out, and they're in the national title game.
Auburn is next.with two to three real games remaining. They get to beat up on Chattanooga this weekend before closing with Georgia and at Alabama, before a possible SEC title game. I'm going to put the odds of Auburn running the table at about 20%. Either Georgia is going to surprise them or Bama will get them in the finale. Get by those two, and then and they'll take on Florida or South Carolina in the SEC Championship. Good luck Tigers.
TCU. Beat the Frogs and take their spot at number 3.
I'm starting to feel bad for Boise. They keep beating up on everyone, and I think they're the most complete team in the country, but are getting jumped every week, now having fallen to number 4. With only one semi-big game remaining on their schedule in Nevada, the Broncos are still going to need some help. They'll win out and probably be number 2 in the polls (behind Oregon). What the Utes are going to need is to be number 3 in those polls. If they're down at four, with a one loss Alabama ahead of them, Utah might not have the human poll points to stay ahead of Boise, despite the TCU victory. Regardless, it's going to be close.
Next comes Alabama. This is the only one loss team that has a realistic chance of getting into the national title game. They're very low in the computer polls (15th), but will make a huge jump in those polls if they beat LSU (who is #6 in the computer polls despite a loss). Combine that with a possible end of season win over Auburn, who is first in all of the computers, and the Crimson Tide will have a very good chance of passing and undefeated Utah.
So what needs to happen over the next few weeks? Step one is to have LSU beat Alabama as Alabama is the biggest one loss threat to the Utes. This game is in Baton Rogue so it can definitely happen. Even with a win over Alabama, LSU isn't much of a threat to the Utes and would lose the SEC West tiebreaker to a one-loss Auburn team.
Alabama needs to beat Auburn. That's the most likely loss on the Auburn schedule. They would have two other tough games, but winning at Alabama is likely the toughest.
Nevada needs to lose another game. Boise State isn't going to lose again so Boise beating a two loss Nevada team doesn't do as much for them as a one loss Nevada team. Nevada's best chance for a loss before Boise is at Fresno State. Virginia Tech also dropping another game would help.
Pitt needs to keep on winning. The Panthers control their own destiny in the Big East and based on the schedule, should win out and grab that BCS spot for their conference. This helps the Utes' profile in voters' eyes.
Beat TCU. Plain and simple.
Things are falling into place for Utah. Two unbeatens down from last week. Two more to go. It all starts this week with TCU.
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