The Chronicle’s View: Don’t count your victories before they hatch

Nobody said a word. Three years of inferiority and anguish had finally, albeit temporarily, shut the caustic, squawking yappers of those idiot BYU fans down in Provo. And then the unthinkable happened-Brian Johnson went down for the season, and back the Cougar faithful came, as irritating as ever before.

All of a sudden, those Cougar-ites got their ever-present cockiness back. There was that arrogant strut that we had all come to know and hate-and all because of a stroke of dumb luck that leaves the Utah offense in the hands of raw, inexperienced quarterback Brett Ratliff.

Well bravo, BYU. You’ve managed to snag Vegas odds in your best chance to win the “Holy War” in years. And for all intents and purposes, the Cougars should win this week’s game. Utah’s best and most important player will be watching from the sidelines-if that isn’t a gift-wrapped victory, what is?

Well, BYU fans can just keep talking. Even if they are a bunch of fat, insecure, horse-faced, jello-eating, imbecilic Neanderthals simply masking a perpetual insecurity, lamenting the fact that they live miserable, useless lives in the middle of nowhere in a city with nothing to do despite the extravagant dreams they had in the halcyon days of their youth and making up for it by rooting for a lousy football team that only exists to give their useless lives some semblance of meaning and/or importance.

But enough of stating the obvious. The fact is that the Utah football team has nothing to lose this weekend. By all logic, the Utes shouldn’t be able to win this game. By all logic, the Cougars should be able to walk all over Utah on their way to the Las Vegas Bowl.

But what if it doesn’t turn out so easy? Actually, it’s almost guaranteed that it won’t come easy. This is a rivalry game. As Kyle Whittingham said, “throw the records out the window.” He’s absolutely right. No matter how much of an edge Cougar fans seem to think they have, both teams-no matter how good or bad they are-always step up for this game.

Even last year’s meeting was no exception. The final score read 52-21, but anyone who saw the game knows that it was much closer than that, until the Utes finally walked away with it. The year before that, a clearly superior Utah team just barely edged an awful Cougar squad in that now-infamous 3-0 barnburner.

The point is that the cockiness of the Cougar faithful is a bit premature, and they will all have egg on their faces if the team falters this Saturday. If they can’t beat an injury-depleted team without its star player at home in LaVell Edwards Stadium, the Cougars are the most pathetic excuse for a football team in the entire Mountain West Conference, four wins in a row notwithstanding.

A Utah upset would be an emasculating loss for the Cougars. After all, if they can’t beat Brett Ratliff, how can they possibly expect to beat Brian Johnson in 2006 and 2007?