We’ve reached the halfway point of the college football season, and there have certainly been some surprises, teams like Memphis and Utah are making noise on the national scene that few preseason pundits would have believed. In fact, the AAC and the Pac-12 are Exhibit A and Exhibit B in the case against preseason rankings. Three AAC teams are in the top 25, while the preseason favorite, (Cincinatti) is mediocre and unranked. Pac-12 preseason favorites USC and Oregon are both struggling, and the Trojans were minus a head coach before the midpoint. Stanford looked awful in the first game, but has bounced back to win 5 straight, and looks like a clear favorite in the Pac-12 North. And speaking of week 1 performances, Utah’s win over Michigan to start the season is something we all predicted. The Wolverines ensuing success? Not so much. They would still be on the rise if not for a tragically awful fumbled snap by a punter in the final seconds.
Meanwhile, in Salt Lake City… The Utes are undefeated, having most recently shaken the ASU monkey off of their back. But it’s not just that they’ve done it so far. It’s HOW they’ve done it. An opportunistic, physical defense (of course). Excellent special teams (with the exception of ASU game) and finally, at long last, a BALANCED offense. This is a team that finds a way. Good teams try to do so. GREAT teams actually do. Look no further than the strange win over Sparky on Saturday night. Utah had an impossible time getting Devonte Booker going until the 4th quarter. The aforementioned special teams were uncharacteristically awful (couple guys on kick coverage teams are about to lose their jobs) and it fell (as we told you it would on ESPN700) to Travis Wilson and his mastery of the offense in the face of aggressive blitzing. His previous career outings against ASU had been nothing short of disastrous, but Saturday he turned in a poised, effective performance and led his team to a win. Eventually, Devontae got his 100 yard game, and sealed the win with a 60+ yard TD, but make no mistake. That DOES NOT happen if Travis Wilson doesn’t play well the whole way. We’ll talk about it more on the show so tune in.
Despite the Utes success to the halfway point, there is still a strong contingent of doubters. Somehow, USC is a favorite to win at home this week. The Trojans are certainly a very athletic and talented team, but Utah matches up well. There is reason for alarm given the questionable status of Jared Norris, but this is a game that Utah can and should win, especially given the relative state of disarray in Troy. The narrative leading up to this game will center on USC’s talent, which is undeniable. Impossible to ignore. For me it is equally impossible to ignore the fact that coaches have yet to get all of that talent to play to full potential. USC is the anti-Ute program. Can’t wait to watch.
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