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The Daily Utah Chronicle

The University of Utah's Independent Student Voice

The Daily Utah Chronicle

The University of Utah's Independent Student Voice

The Daily Utah Chronicle

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Write for Us
Want your voice to be heard? Submit a letter to the editor, send us an op-ed pitch or check out our open positions for the chance to be published by the Daily Utah Chronicle.
@TheChrony
Print Issues

Don’t discount the Lobos

By Nick Pappas

Ever feel like life is a series of patterns? There are some events you can rely on to happen every year. The Jazz will roll through a season full of potential and end it without a championship. Your friend will date a loser, have a messy break-up, and then date the exact same person, only with a different face. Sarah Palin will say something stupid and follow that up with something totally inept.

In sports, though, there’s always room for a few surprises.

As much as a coach can rail that every game matters, it’s simply human nature to look past terrible teams and thank the stars for an easy win.
I did this with my fantasy football team last week, playing a girl sitting at 0-7. She spent the season not setting her lineup and for some inexplicable reason decided to fill the gaps. Roddy White caught two touchdowns. Lance Moore went for 90 yards. I became her first win.

I’ve also noticed this while playing ESPN’s Streak for the Cash. The rules seem simple: Win 25 games in a row and walk away with $1 million. All you have to do is pick sure wins, right? The closest anyone has come to date is 21 in a row.

Upsets are a part of sports. Good teams get up for big games and put in lackluster performances against sure wins. On the other hand, flailing teams look for a bright spot in their season and play their heart out for that one big victory.

My point is this: TCU doesn’t scare me. BYU doesn’t scare me. New Mexico on the road scares the daylights out of me.

The New Mexico game on Saturday is the perfect storm for an upset. Back in 1994, Utah had a dominant performance versus UTEP, burying the Miners by 52 points. It put the Utes at 8-0, 9th nationally, and with a ticket to destiny in their calloused fingers.

The next game was against a 3-6 New Mexico team in fiery Albuquerque. Utah could never put the Lobos away, and they ripped the tickets from the Utes’ hands.

This year, Utah is coming off a stellar performance against Colorado State. They are 8-0 and ranked 9th nationally. New Mexico is having a losing season, currently at 4-5. Sound familiar?

The Utes have only been 9-0 once in school history&-the year Utah busted the BCS. This means there are two distinct possibilities for the remainder of the season. Utah can steamroll through these last four games, labeling Kyle Whittingham with the same godlike status of Urban Meyer, or the team can sputter, making Whittingham the next reincarnation of Ron McBride, a great coach who could never get over the hump.

Whittingham cannot underplay the importance of this game on the road. New Mexico historically gives the Utes fits. Throughout the history of the match-up, Utah either wins by a lot or loses close games. If the game stays close through three quarters, the Lobos and their fans will smell the wafting scent of an upset.

Patterns can be broken, but to do so, history must change. Utah needs to go into Albuquerque and draw blood early and often. They have to prove they are above the pressure if the game is close.

[email protected]

Nick Pappas

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