In 2005, shortly after Utah wrapped up a season where they finished undefeated and busted the BCS, I wondered if Utah could crash the BCS party again that season.
We found out that maybe those predictions and hopes were a bit ambitious. Utah not only didn't make a BCS bowl game, they didn't even sniff one. A 7-5 season later and Ute fans were more cautious and grounded heading into the 2006 campaign.
Well four years later and we're back to wondering what will follow an undefeated, BCS playin' season. The not wanting to be burned again fan inside of me suspects there is no possible way Utah even puts itself in the position to play in a January bowl game. Yet the fan who didn't believe it was possible this time last year says that -- yes -- it could happen. But history suggests it probably won't.
I say this, unfortunately, because history doesn't favor Utah. In fact, each of the last three times a non-BCS team has busted through the BCS, their encore performance has been anything but impressive.
In 2005, as mentioned, Utah went 7-5. They did manage to win their bowl game, but were never really in contention for a BCS bowl bid outside the first two weeks of the season. In 2007, Boise State went 10-3, lost the WAC and their bowl game on the heels of their dream season. The team they lost the WAC to that year, Hawaii, went a mediocre 7-7 in 2008, losing to Notre Dame on their home field in the Hawaii Bowl.
So Utah, Boise State and Hawaii were a combined 38-1 the years they played in a BCS bowl game, yet followed it up by going only a combined 24-15. That's a sharp decrease over a one-year span and suggests it's very likely Utah not only takes a step back, but possibly a giant one.
With all that said, each team had their varying circumstances post-BCS. Utah & Hawaii had to replace their coaches and a bulk of their offense. That is only half-true for the Utes this year. Boise State had to replace its quarterback, kept its coaching staff and actually were well-positioned for a possible BCS berth had they knocked off Hawaii. That didn't happen and instead, the Warriors went on to face Georgia in the Sugar Bowl, a game they would eventually lose.
But what happened to the Broncos might give insight into what to expect from the Utes this year.
Like Boise State, there will be changes under center. Like Boise State, the Utes kept their much-talked about coach. And like Boise State, they have a huge road game early against a Northwest foe. The Broncos faced Washington -- a game they lost -- and Utah will face the Oregon Ducks in week three.
I mentioned the Broncos lost that game, but they rebounded to win nine straight before losing their final two. Had they defeated Hawaii, it's very likely they earn an at-large bid to the BCS, becoming the first -- and only -- one-loss non-BCS team to play for a BCS bowl.
So what does this all mean for Utah? Well if the Utes do lose to Oregon, it's still possible they rebound and win the remainder of their games. It's no guarantee, especially if Boise State goes undefeated, but it would provide Utah a third BCS bowl game.
Wouldn't that be sweet?
Of course, that means Utah also has to beat TCU and BYU on the road, which might be just as tough -- if not more tough -- than the Oregon game.
And they can't afford to lose either game, even if they defeat the Ducks, since it would most likely come far too late in the season for them to bounce back in the polls. Which means, if Utah is going to accomplish the BCS trifecta, they're going to have to establish themselves early in the season.
The good news here is that Utah will almost certainly start the season in the top-25. That'll give them a boost they didn't even have last season. The bad news is they'll most likely be joined there by TCU and Boise State. Now the Frogs probably wouldn't be an issue, unless they entered the Utah game with one-loss and gave the Utes their first, but Boise State most likely will. The Broncos have an extremely favorable schedule, with their hardest game coming against Oregon at home. As they proved last year, they're very capable of going undefeated in the regular season and it's probably going to happen again this year.
Even with a less than fantastic schedule, an undefeated BSU team will get in over a one-loss Utah team. I think, anyway.
Then again, maybe I'm out of my mind and it just isn't going to happen. I'd wager it probably doesn't, but we have nothing better to do than talk about the possibility, right? Really, I think Utah loses three games this season, but a one-loss finish is not out of the question. And if that loss comes to the Ducks, there is no doubt in my mind Utah will be in contention for a BCS bid once the season ends.
But what do you think?