IV of XIII

A Tale of Two Seasons: Part IV of XIII

The 16-game winning streak–that captivated college football fans nationwide as a humble team from back of the water Utah surged unexpectedly to the top of the list–ended dramatically last week. But Utes fans, who spent the week licking their wounds after the demoralizing defeat in Oregon, crawled out of the shadow of despair upon witnessing the 14-point lead the team took against the University of Louisville Cardinals.

As the Louisville game approached, I should have been confident the Utes would pull through with an easy win, but doubt still clouded my soul. That might sound a little dramatic, but if you watched the Utes get stomped out of Autzen Stadium last week, you understand perfectly.

A loss would have little effect on the Utes’ standing in the conference, but besides ripping out my heart, the biggest blow would land on the team. I feared that a loss to Louisville would wreck havoc on the teams’ confidence as they prepared for the eight conference games that await them.

Last year, the Utes also had a lot on the line in the fourth game as they traveled to Colorado Springs to take on the Air Force Academy Falcons. Mountain West Conference football viewers know without a doubt that the true conference powers are the Utes, TCU, and it pains me to say it but, the y. However, playing Air Force is no walk in the park, and in years past, when our beloved team wasn’t in their prime (don’t get me started on this year), they have slipped up and lost to the Falcons.

Air Force was a bit of a scare for Utah in ’08. After a quick lead, the Utes struggled to maintain a strong hold and by the 4th quarter Air Force had scored to tie it up. Utah drove down the field one last time to score with 58 seconds left in the game–a 7-point lead that left the Utes in a precarious position.

As I shot the start of the Falcons’ drive, I had a sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach. Then Joe Dale came up with an interception and gave me (and Utes fans watching with their breaths held expectantly) the chance to breathe again.

It did not take the Utes long against Louisville to show they had improved since the Oregon defeat. The Utes blocked a field goal on Louisville’s first possession, and then scored a TD. On the second one, Utah forced a fumble and scored one play later to knock the score up to 14-0–thank god–sending Rice-Eccles into a frenzy.

The Utes continued with their early momentum throughout the remainder of the game and came out with a win, or so it appeared.

For as Utah took two steps forward, they also took one back as the injury bug bit them–and bit them hard. Utah’s running back Matt Asiata will miss the rest of the year. As sad as it is to lose Asiata, I am excited to see Eddie Wide take over the starting job. Hopefully fans will see the performance he mustered on Saturday continue over to the next game.

As for the rest of the injured Utes, let’s just say the bye week came at a perfect time. Rest is exactly what the team requires to regroup to kick some ass.