Utah finding frustration in BCS world

Originally Published: November 7, 2004
By Brad Edwards | Special to ESPN.com

Try these numbers on for size.

Sixty-three points … 534 yards … Plus-five turnover margin … 32-point margin of victory.

Those are just some of the highlights from Utah's win over Colorado State on Saturday. Yet, many Utah fans probably went to bed that night feeling as if they had just lost. Scoreboard watching sure can ruin an evening.

In the world of the Bowl Championship Series, as the Utes are now discovering, it is possible to be both dominant and helpless at the same time.

Utah is one of six undefeated teams in Division I-A, and it is the only one of that group not to have survived a scare this season. None of the Utes' nine games have been any closer than 14 points during the final 10 minutes. But for all the control Utah exerts over its opponents on the field, its chances to reach the ultimate goal -- a berth in a BCS game -- rests on the shoulder pads of players in other uniforms.

After a two-week run in the top six of the BCS Standings, the Utes are now No. 7, which is one spot shy of where they need to be for an automatic BCS berth. For those who hadn't already figured it out, the message is now clear: Someone must lose to clear Utah's path to college football's promised land. And diehard Utes fans can't help but wonder if there will be another opportunity as good as this past Saturday.

USC, Oklahoma, California and Texas -- all ahead of Utah in this week's BCS Standings -- each trailed by at least 13 points before coming from behind to win Saturday. Cal survived after a wide-open Oregon receiver dropped a pass on fourth down. Texas overcame a 28-point deficit by outscoring Oklahoma State 42-0 in the second half. If either team had lost, Utah might now have control of its BCS destiny. But, at least for the moment, it appears that it wasn't meant to be.

Who ever said BCS busting would be easy?

Utah fans should be enjoying this remarkable season, but some of them instead feel only frustration over a system that is not designed to help their cause. As many other schools have already learned, the BCS has a way of altering perspective this time of year. The pot of gold becomes the focal point, overshadowing important team achievements such as conference titles and undefeated records. Before you know it, the decimal-point demons are in control.

Welcome to the big time, Utah. I hope it's all it was cracked up to be.

Brad Edwards is a college football researcher at ESPN. His Road to the BCS appears weekly during the season.

• Analyzes college football and the BCS as part of ESPN's Stats & Information Group
• Analyst for both College GameDay on ESPN Radio and the ESPN College Football app

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