And then it all went wrong.
It was the game of the week. It may have been the game of the year. It was certainly the biggest game in Mountain West Conference History and probably the biggest non-BCS matchup ever. ESPN's College Gameday was there. Utah was decked out in their camo-jerseys. The black-out was in effect as the fans filled Rice-Eccles Stadium to the brim. The energy was off the charts….and then the game started.
What the hell happened out there? Everyone was bad. Everyone. By the second half, the only two players that were still playing hard were Brian Blechen and Christian Cox. The University of Utah, as a whole, should be embarrassed.
The offense was bad. It all started with Wynn, but the line failed to block for him, the running game couldn't get going, and when you're down 23-0, you have to pass. When all you're doing is passing, the defense knows what's coming and can tee off. Nothing went right offensively.
The defense was almost as bad. TCU put up over 500 yards of offense and moved the ball at will. The defensive line couldn't get any kind of pressure and pretty much stopped playing after halftime. The corners were exposed and even Brandon Burton had a bad day. Sitaki's gameplan was poor, and they didn't make the adjustments that we're used to seeing out of the defense. The loss of Chad Manis turned out to be huge and everyone looked slow.
TCU outplayed, outcoached, outclassed, and overmatched Utah in every way imagineable on Saturday. The Utes took a few shots on the chin early, and never got up.
TCU is good. TCU is very good. They might be the best team in the country. I'd vote them as my number 1 team.
Quit. This team absolutely quit. It was apparent early that they weren't as good as TCU. Once put into a 20 point hole, it was over. I knew it, you knew it, the coaches knew it, and the players knew it. That said, this is the first time I've ever seen a Kyle Whittingham team quit and it was inexcusable. Despite similar circumstances, they played much harder and kept fighting in last year's TCU game.
Is this going to be a program defining loss for Utah? Doubtful, but it does hurt their perception on a national stage. After back to back humiliating losses the last two years to TCU, with College Gameday in town both times, and the Utes being severely overmatched in both games, fans and media around the country are throwing their stones. Overrated. Haven't played anybody. Exposed. Are the Utes the mediocre team that many are calling them right now? No. They're still a top 15 team that won't lose another regular season game, but this really hurts.
I said it last week in the game preview and it held true. The Utes will go as Jordan Wynn goes against TCU. Wynn was bad, very bad. Therefore, Utah was bad, very bad. Jordan came out and looked jittery from the beginning in overthrowing passes, forcing balls, and getting the dear in the headlights look whenever a TCU defender was barring down on him. As the game went on, his confidence continued to drop and the Utes chances went with them.
As Wynn struggled, groans and booing came out of the crowd each time he came back on to the field. Fans clamoring for Terrance Cain were disappointed that the Utah coaches refused to try their senior quarterback out in an attempt to mix things up. While anything but Wynn may have have been an upgrade on Saturday, leaving him in was the right move. There's a reason that he's your starter and Cain is the backup; Wynn is the better quarterback and the future of the program. If you want to win a Pac 12 title, Jordan Wynn needs to learn from this game on the field.
Speed. TCU might be the fastest team in the country. Some would make the case for Oregon, LSU, or an Alabama, but the Horned Frogs can fly. The Utes just didn't have the speed or athleticism to stay with them. Going forward, the Utes are going to face teams with speed that might be close to what TCU showed on a weekly basis. You're obviously going to get it from Oregon, and USC always has great athletes. Cal brings a lot of speed, especially on offense. Stanford is more of a big power team, but still very quick. You could make the case that Arizona is the second fastest team in the conference this year. UCLA recruits well and has a ton of speed, but that hasn't translated over to the field yet. If Utah wants to compete and win in the Pac 12, an upgrade in speed may be in order.
Where do the Utes go from here? With Notre Dame coming up, they'll likely rebound with a win and run the table from here on out. What this does though mean going forward though? Are the Utes not at the level as a program that we all thought they were? What changes need to be made to ensure that this doesn't happen again and they can get back up to a number 5 ranking again? Or, was this just one of those games where you forget it ever happened, throw away the tape, and move on? How they Utes respond to this loss as a program, going forward into the Pac 12, is going to help set a precedent as to what kind of program they can and will be.
Utah Beaten Badly By TCU
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