Fear not, Utah is the best-looking non-BCS team at this point

By Tony Pizza, Sports Editor

I’ve made a habit of waking up early Sunday morning and refreshing the college football rankings page on ESPN until I see where Utah has moved up to. Since Sept. 21, the Sunday after Boise State beat then-No. 17 Oregon on the road, the Broncos have stayed close to the Utes. A little too close.

I have always been an advocate of a college football playoff system. I think more teams like Utah, Boise State, TCU and Ball State should have a chance to play in a high profile Bowl Championship Series game against teams from the SEC, Big 12 and the Big Ten.

It seems there is still only room for one team to crack the BCS, and Utah is the clear frontrunner. That, however, hasn’t stopped Boise State from playing the role of Utah’s pilot fish since the new rankings came out earlier this month.

I can think of one reason why Boise State has ascended up the college football rankings like Costello to Utah’s Abbot, or the Sundance Kid to the Utes’ Butch Cassidy.

In any other circumstance, I’d be happy for Boise State holding an overrated No. 11 ranking in the AP poll this week, but if only one can get invited to the party, it’s every non-BCS team for itself.

When the Titanic sank April 15, 1912, stories recount that survivors beat people off the sides of the lifeboat in order to prevent the small vessels from capsizing. At some point, the survivors in the boat came to put their life and their safety above those that were striving to attain the same safety. This theory is now known as the lifeboat theory.

About the only thing Utah and Boise State have in common is their non-BCS-ness. Utah plays in a much harder conference, faces a similarly challenging non-conference schedule and has blown out weaker opponents every bit as convincingly as Boise State. I’m sure if we broke down every single number there is to process, I could find 50 reasons Utah deserves to be in a BCS bowl more than Boise State. But as a I sit here watching Utah now in the BCS lifeboat with two-thirds of the season complete, I feel guilty for being so angry at Boise State’s ranking. Aren’t college football fans from Columbus, Ohio to Columbia, Mo., and Baton Rouge, La., to Stillwater, Okla., saying the same thing about Utah in the Top 10? Surely Ohio State, LSU and Missouri could complain about some Ute team being ranked ahead of them, despite playing outside the Big 10, SEC and Big 12 conferences. And couldn’t a one-loss Oklahoma State team that just took the No. 1 team in the nation to the wire complain about an inferior Utah team from the Mountain West being right on their tails waiting for it to slip up just once?

Maybe it’s time to ditch the lifeboat theory after all. We don’t have to be thrilled there are three suitors from the wrong side of the tracks hoping to take a BCS bowl out for a date in January. But at this point, Utah fans should just be happy that their team is one of those guys8212;and they are the best looking, with the highest paying job and the cheeriest disposition at this point in the race. Make it to Nov. 23 with a perfect record before you start worrying about who is trying to knock you out of the boat and leave you stranded in the icy water.

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