Not so fast: The Utes aren’t there just yet

The U football team is clearly the better team going into this week’s rivalry game against BYU and just about every Ute fan I have talked to has asked me if I am going to the Fiesta Bowl.

Hey Ute fans, it’s not over yet,

Prior to Utah’s run, there have been two teams that have challenged the BCS and have come close to busting into the elite system-TCU and BYU.

In 2001, BYU threatened the BCS with their offense. The Cougars scored 70 points in their first game against Tulane to set the tone for the year.

Although the team had close games with UNLV, Wyoming and New Mexico, the Cougar administration persuaded the BCS to let them in, but they forgot one thing-the season wasn’t over.

In the last game of the regular season, the Cougars went to Hawaii and gave up 72 points in a loss, which ruined their season. The game deflated all morale and the Cougars went on to lose the Liberty Bowl against Louisville.

TCU, however, did not get as close as the Cougars, but were getting a lot of publicity. At 7-0, the Horned Frogs were ranked No. 9, but fell complacent and lost to San Jose State.

There is an easy lesson to be learned from the prior runs for all Ute fans along with the players and coaches-it’s not over until the team is undefeated and the regular-season schedule is finished.

The differences between TCU’s and BYU’s runs to the BCS in comparison to Utah’s are easy to spot.

For one, the attention paid to this run is above and beyond the past runs and “College Football GameDay” did not go to either of those schools, so you know it’s going to be huge.

That said, Utah is not just playing another team, but its rival. Last season, the Utes were heavily favored and only pulled out a 3-0 victory in Provo.

Many forget the game in 2001 before the Cougars lost to Hawaii, which ended BYU’s run to the BCS, Utah went into Provo and held a 10-point lead late in the fourth quarter before giving up the lead to running back Luke Staley and quarterback Bandon Doman.

To even think that a win is a forgone conclusion is asinine, especially considering the matchups along with the rivalry factor.

There hasn’t been a blowout in the BYU-Utah game since the Cougars finished the season ranked at No. 5. That year, Ronney Jenkins and Steve Sarkisian came into Rice-Eccles Stadium to run over the Utes.

Besides that matchup, the Utes have had relatively close games with the Cougars and it would surprise me if this one weren’t close, too.

The Cougars have a teary-eyed quarterback, but he still has an arm and can go over the top to receivers Todd Watkins and Austin Collie.

Both freshmen are burners and Ute coach Urban Meyer has publicly acknowledged the speed of the Cougars.

Other than their talents, the Cougars are playing for their season as well. At 5-5, a win at Utah would earn them a trip to a bowl game, probably to the Las Vegas Bowl.

And after a season of ups and downs, a win over the Utes would make the Cougars’ season even if they did not make it to a bowl game.

Don’t count your chickens before they hatch, Ute fans. Focus on killing the Cougars and the BCS will come along. If the Ute players get overconfident because of the hype, they will find themselves at 10-1.

But if they play as they have throughout the year, I predict Brian Johnson will come into the game in the middle of the third quarter.

[email protected]