How good were they?

12-0. Undefeated. The perfect season.

So why are the Utes done playing football? They have yet to encounter a worthy opponent. They destroyed every team they played this year without even one mildly interesting fourth quarter. So they must be waiting for a game against USC or Auburn, right?


The Utes ended up as victims of the inescapable force that is the BCS-or the Bull Crap Series, as many locals have taken to calling it. Sure, the Utes were the first non-BCS conference team ever to make it to a BCS game, but is that really enough to validate the kind of season the Utes had?

I know the Mountain West Conference will be forever indebted to the Utes for bringing home the bacon, but it just doesn’t seem like the season ended fairly.

The Utes were forced into the ultimate lose-lose situation when they were paired with the Pittsburgh Panthers in the Fiesta Bowl. The Utes’ killing Pitt only proved that the Panthers had no place in a BCS game. The Big East was a terrible football conference this year, and a U blowout would do little to prove how good this team really was.

Going into the game, we all knew that Pitt was a horrible season-ending opponent, but the bigger fear was what would happen if the Utes lost to Pitt. A U loss would mean that, as Trev Alberts and his buddies expected, the Utes were merely the beneficiaries of an easy schedule in a mid-grade conference.

U fans were so elated to be included in the old boys club that we forgot how the game would affect the lore of the U football program. Now, instead of celebrating the best season in the history of the school, we will always wonder how good the Utes really were.

Were they as good as Auburn? The Tigers ran the table in the Southeastern Conference and looked very impressive in wins against the likes of Georgia and Tennessee, but they looked pretty mediocre against Virginia Tech in their bowl game.

I think the Utes could have beaten Auburn, but we will never know because of the ineptitude of the people in charge of college football. We all know there should be a playoff, but it never happens.

In an ESPN simulation of a hypothetical eight-team playoff, the Utes defeated Auburn in the first round of the playoffs. This game might have taken place in the world of virtual reality, but if a video game thinks the Utes could do it, I don’t see how much of a stretch it is for a human to think the same thing.

Could the Utes have defeated USC? The Trojans looked pretty good in the national championship game, but they weren’t facing the dreaded spread option (an offense that, as U fans, we may never see again). I can’t make a good argument that the Utes could have taken the Trojans, but I know they could have made it a game. Even BYU looked like they had a shot against USC.

I know that wasn’t a national championship game, but if the Cougars could hang with them, the Utes certainly would have had a shot.

The Utes never had a chance to play any of the top-ranked teams, and maybe it’s better to wonder “what if” than to face the brutal reality of a potential blowout if matched against a USC or an Auburn. Maybe we’re better off not knowing.

After watching the Utes dismantle the Panthers in the Fiesta Bowl, one thing was clear-this was one of the best college football teams I have ever seen. And while there will always be questions about how good they really were, those questions will eventually give way to a collective memory of perfection during the best season in the history of the school.

They never lost, and that’s all that really matters.

[email protected]