Football Is Where It Expected to Be

A year ago, the Utah football team was supposed to win the conference, but went 4-7 instead.

This year, the Utes were picked to finish but sixth in the MWC, and now they’re in a position to knock off a top-10 ranked and undefeated team, win the league title and advance to a postseason bowl berth.

So much for living up to expectations.

Maybe U coach Ron McBride should adopt the strategy of his Ute men’s basketball counterpart Rick Majerus and simply say his team is terrible and virtually incapable of winning anything.

Not that the Utes would believe him; after all, while the pundits may be surprised, the Utes feel like they’re right where they should have been all along.

“I can’t say more about how we feel right now?This has been a long time coming,” said junior linebacker Sheldon Deckart.

After Deckart and his defensive compatriots helped limit San Diego State to just 258 yards and 3 points, to boost the Utes to 7-2 overall, 4-1 MWC, and set up this coming Saturday’s marquee matchup with 10-0 BYU, the Utes are just itching to get back out on the field.

Not that they’d be lacking motivation to beat the Cougars if both teams were winless, but the fact that the conference championship potentially hinges on the outcome of this contest has the Utah players even more juiced.

“Everyone is real excited. This is the position that everyone wants to be in. Everyone wants to play for the conference title,” said sophomore quarterback Lance Rice.

Deckart added that the Utes’ ability to rise from the ashes created from last year’s smoldering burnout and be back in contention for the MWC championship a year later showed just how intent on winning Saturday’s contest the Utes are.

“That [BYU] game is what football is all about,” he said.

Optimistic platitudes aside, though, junior defensive tackle Garrett Smith anticipated an intriguing game not only because of all the potential implications and ramifications, but also simply because of the contrasting styles the two teams employ.

“It’s for a championship, but it’s a rivalry too, so it’s going to be huge. Then, you’ve got the best offense in the league versus the best defense in the league, so it’ll be a great matchup,” Smith said.

As for McBride, he’s simply glad to be able to ditch the weekly lecture on not overlooking lesser opponents and looking ahead to the possibility of knocking off BYU.

There’s no one else standing in the way anymore.

“The game’s here now?let’s play it,” McBride said.

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