Originally published January 5, 2009 at 12:00a.m., updated January 5, 2009 at 03:15p.m.
You just know that college presidents who cling to an archaic system of picking a football national champion are thinking, “What a fine mess you’ve gotten us into, Utah.”
In contrast, most of the rest of America has to love the Utes for rendering the BCS title game even more inconclusive than it was when it excluded Texas, USC and the rest of the schools that could have made an at least halfway legitimate claim to deserving a shot at the national title.
The Utes just didn’t do their part for the BCS and roll over for Alabama from the mighty Southeastern Conference.
Thanks to the Utes adding a 31-17 victory against Alabama in front of a pro-Crimson Tide crowd in the Sugar Bowl to an already impressive resume there just might be two national champions this year, one crowned by the BCS, the other by Associated Press voters.
Unless Oklahoma wins the BCS title game by a few touchdowns, I can’t see myself putting anyone other than Utah at the top of my final ballot.
As were all AP voters, my e-mail in box was packed with polite lobbying efforts from Utes fans who pointed out that the Mountain West Conference, in which Utah plays, went 8-2 against the Pac-10 and SEC combined. Compelling stuff.
Before comparing Utah to the teams playing in the BCS title game, compare its season to those of Texas and USC.
The Utes went 4-0 against teams that finished the regular season in the AP Top 25. The victories came against No. 4 Alabama, No. 11 TCU, No. 17 Brigham Young and No. 24 Oregon State.
Texas has gone 3-1 against Top-25 teams so far (with a game against No. 10 Ohio State today), with victories against No. 2 Oklahoma, No. 13 Oklahoma State and No. 25 Missouri. Its loss came at Texas Tech.
Slight edge to Utah in that comparison for the simple reason the Utes are undefeated.
USC went 3-1 vs. the Top 25, with victories against No. 6 Penn State, No. 10 Ohio State and No. 15 Oregon and a loss at No. 24 Oregon State.
Convincing advantage to Utah in that comparison, particularly considering the common opponent of Oregon State, though the Utes had the advantage of playing that one at home.
Assuming Florida wins the BCS title game, the Gators would boast a 3-1 record against teams now ranked in the top 25. The victories would have come against No. 2 Oklahoma, No. 4 Alabama and No. 16 Georgia. The loss came at home against Mississippi. The edge goes to Utah.
Now, for the biggest challenge to the Utes’ national-title aspirations: Oklahoma, where the wind comes sweepin’ down the plain.
With a victory in the title game, the Sooners would have a 6-1 record against these Top 25 teams: No. 1 Florida, No. 8 Texas Tech, No. 11 TCU, No. 12 Cincinnati, No. 13 Oklahoma State and No. 25 Missouri, most of them by big margins. The only loss came against No. 3 Texas on a neutral field. That’s some season.
It’s a joke, of course, that Florida ranks ahead of Oklahoma and is favored to win by 3-1⁄2 points.
Utah ending up No. 1 wouldn’t be a joke. The Utes played like national champions in dominating Alabama.