University of Utah

The Bowl Game Doesn’t Matter

Utah already achieved their goal of becoming bowl-eligible this year.  It was a primary stated goal of the program, and an accomplishment that shouldn’t be downplayed considering the schedule that the Utes have played.  Five top-25 opponents in a single year, road games against tough teams like UCLA and Stanford, a trip to Tempe to play one of the hottest teams in the country (at the time); all of that adds up to a nasty test over the course of a season.

The Utes have done a better job of passing that than most fans expected, particularly in the first seven weeks.  While a return to bowl-eligibility is nice, and a boon for recruiting, the game itself (likely Sun Bowl or Foster Farms Bowl) is relatively insignificant.   That’s not to say that the Utes have nothing to play for though.  This week’s game against Colorado is actually very significant.  Not because it raises the Utes stock in terms of rankings, or gets you to a better bowl game, not even because of the budding “Rocky Mountain Rivalry” that the Pac-12 wants to sell you.  This game matters for one reason only – winning gives the Utes a 5-4 record in conference play.  A winning record.  It hasn’t always been pretty, and there were chances to be much better than that.

This year 5-4 in the Pac-12 doesn’t even leave the Utes in great standing.  In fact, 5-4 is good for a 5th place finish in the Pac-12 South, which is where a lot of pre-season predictions had the team slotted.  Still, anybody who has watched this team all year knows that they are much better than they were a year ago.  The cupboard is rather full for next year also.  But if you want to keep re-stocking that cupboard, Utah MUST win on Saturday and take a winning resume into the kitchens and living rooms of recruits.   The conference sells itself.  The TV deal is good.  The facility is amazing.  But coaches can’t reasonably expect to keep up with the Jones’s carrying a losing conference record.  For that reason, the game in Boulder is far more important than whatever bowl Utah lands in.

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