Obvious defeats aren?t always fun games

By Nick Pappas, Sports Columnist

Sometimes the scoreboard doesn’t tell the whole story. If you turn to the last page of Utah’s football game against Utah State on Saturday, you might think it had a happy ending. The final score in Romney Stadium was 58-10, the definition of a trouncing.

The Aggies fumbled, flailed and ultimately failed to produce any yards. It’s a score that should be celebrated.

It isn’t, though. It was the same story as the previous two: Utah beating a subpar team and raising more questions than answers.

“It wasn’t our best football game,” said head coach Kyle Whittingham. “We haven’t played our best football yet, but we’re 3-0 out of the gate, and that’s where we want to be.”

It feels like the next few chapters are going to be a little darker for a team that still hasn’t worked out how to be the hero of its own story.

How can someone complain about a score of 58-10?

First, I don’t think Michael Jordan would take any joy in beating a kindergartner in a game of H-O-R-S-E. The Aggies were outmatched and have been for more than a decade against the Utes. They are a team that sits comfortably in ESPN’s Bottom 10 and averaged 2.4 yards a play Saturday. Had they simply lined up and tripped forward on every play, they might have done better.

Second, Utah still has not found the antidote for the illness that has plagued them for three games now: a lack of focus. The Utes allowed Utah State to take an early lead after John Peel fumbled a punt return. Worse, Peel was replaced by Jereme Brooks, who picked up where he left off against Michigan and fumbled one as well.

Whittingham had to eventually put Brent Casteel in the backfield to catch punts. In a game where the Utes scored seven touchdowns, the loudest cheer from the fans came when Casteel fielded a fair catch. Something needs to be fixed when an easy job causes an earsplitting uproar.

Casteel is not the solution. Utah is a team that has had season-altering injuries in recent years, not least of which to Casteel himself. He is needed as a wide receiver, not as a fair catcher in the line of fire.

Last, and perhaps most importantly, was a score that had nothing to do with the Utes and Aggies at all. While 58-10 is enough to hang your hat on, 125 miles down the road, BYU gave UCLA their worst loss since 1929. The Cougars defeated the Bruins 59-0. UCLA is a Pac-10 team with a historic past. Utah State is a team that barely belongs in the Football Bowl Subdivision football season. The difference is clear.

The story will reach a climax with the Utes in only a week when they face an equally undefeated Air Force team in conference play. BYU, on the other hand, will face Wyoming, a team that Air Force beat handily. If Utah wants to keep pace with their southern rival, next week means an awful lot.

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Nick Pappas