Top 25 housekeepers dust off Utes during bye

By and

A lot has happened since the Utes last took the field on the first day of October. Heading into the first release of the BCS standings, the world of college football is in flux.

First of all, the pollsters have been doing some housekeeping and a few dusty teams have been moved from the mantle, in favor of shinier models. The top five said goodbye to Texas and Georgia, and welcomed Auburn and Purdue. After a loss to Oklahoma, Texas dropped from No. 5 to No. 11 in the ESPN/USA Today Poll, and Georgia fell from No. 3 to No. 8.

Purdue has gained more ground than anyone in the past two weeks, going from No. 15 to No. 5. However, the Boilermakers will face their biggest challenge to date as the No. 12 Wisconsin Badgers visit West Lafayette, Indiana.

Auburn has been lingering around the Top 10 since it leapfrogged Utah in week 5, and it finally cracked the top five last Monday, appearing at the No. 4 spot.

Oklahoma State has also taken to rising recently, as it has climbed nine spots, from No. 24 to No. 15, since the Utes beat New Mexico. The Cowboys are threatening to climb higher if they beat Texas A&M, giving Ute fans a dual motive for supporting the Aggies this weekend.

On the other end of the rope, former pollster golden boys Ohio State and LSU are sinking faster than cement-footed corpses in the Hudson River and are in danger of entering the college football purgatory of unranked teams. The Buckeyes climbed to No. 6 before falling 17 spots in two weeks to No. 23, thanks to back-to-back losses to conference opponents.

The Tigers of LSU haven’t exactly thrived in defense of their national title. They only lost to Auburn by one, but then they went to Georgia and lost by 29, thereby justifying an 11-spot slide from 13 to 24, after starting the season at No. 3.

If either the Buckeyes or the Tigers lose again this weekend, they will most likely join Fresno State in the dominion of the unranked. The Bulldogs, who were once touted as the best non-BCS team by ESPN’s Mark May, lost to Louisiana Tech and are now playing for what must seem like nothing.

The Utes are in a similar position regarding the complete devastation of a loss, but unlike Fresno State, they are still unbeaten and ranked in the top 10 for the first time since 1995. Based on past success and the misfortune of others, the Utes climbed from No. 14 to No. 10 over the span of two weeks.

This week, however, the Utes are in a difficult position. They have to win big over a North Carolina team that just beat then-No. 25 NC State in order to win the respect they need to climb higher in the polls.

As Urban Meyer noticed during his week of observation, the Utes aren’t getting a whole lot of respect from certain television journalists, so just beating UNC won’t be enough-especially since the Tar Heels were recent victims of the negative aspects of marijuana: losing your memory, losing your ambition and losing three quality players on your football team.

Win or lose, however, the Utes will most likely be moving around in the polls. No. 7 Florida State hosts No. 6 Virginia, Auburn plays a pesky Arkansas squad, and No. 9 Cal plays the equally pesky 4-1 UCLA Bruins. Not to mention both No. 15 Oklahoma State and No. 11 Texas could push Utah back in the polls with victories over their respected opponents.

However, there is another poll coming out this Monday that makes the two other polls look even more meaningless than presidential debate results, and that is, of course, the BCS.

Instead of the whims and fancies of foppish announcers and journalists, the BCS is based primarily on math (although the fops do get a percentage of the say). That couldn’t work out any more in Utah’s favor, because the Tarheels have the highest strength of schedule rating of all Utah opponents, and strength of schedule is one of the statistics that the BCS takes into account more heavily than the other polls.

One Web site, which the NCAA references for its basketball strength of schedule ratings, has the Utes at No. 8 in his first mock release of the BCS standings, but unfortunately it’s only a mockup. In reality, the only thing the Utes can do to affect their standing is win against UNC in impressive fashion. If that happens, the housekeeping pollsters and BCS mathematicians might want to shine the Utes’ off-colored helmets for a spot on the mantle. But for now, the coffee table will have to do.

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