It's another run at perfection and the scheduling snobs have returned with their tired and boring argument that Utah doesn't deserve to be anywhere in the BCS picture because they just don't play anyone.
This year, they actually do have somewhat of a case because the Utes have had a steady diet of cupcakes the last six weeks. I'll readily admit their schedule hasn't been impressive and probably doesn't compare to the first six weeks of the 2008 season. Yet I don't accept their full argument because Utah is doing more than just beating these teams. They're completely obliterating them and that is something you don't often see.
My problem with this argument is that they're too focused on the schedule and not focused enough on the results. Because ultimately, it is the results on the field that often dictates a team's completeness and ability to succeed. In that regard, you won't find many teams out there who have done better than the Utes these last six or seven weeks.
That is key because it offers a preview of what to expect when the schedule inevitably toughens up this Saturday against the Air Force Falcons.
Utah is going to be able to prove the doubters wrong this week, next week and the week after that. But it might not be enough to overcome the perception that because this team has pretty much bulldozed its way through an easy schedule, they're not legitimate.
Kirk Herbstreit Sunday summed it up best when discussing the lighter schedule of Utah, TCU and Boise State compared to the likes of Alabama. He essentially said that you've got to look beyond the schedule and look at how a team is playing more than who they're beating to get an idea of where they should be ranked.
It really is a novel concept, right? The fact is, with so many diverse schedules and the fact that most of college football won't play the exact same teams as a potential poll rival, it's irresponsible to speculate that because this team won this game, they must be better than the other team.
Look at the Missouri Tigers - who surged up the rankings after beat the Oklahoma Sooners Saturday. What guarantee is there that, at this point, the Tigers are a legitimate top-five team? We're basing this solely on their ability to win one game against the team that sat atop the BCS rankings that week.
Now I'm not saying Missouri isn't worthy of their rankings - but has Missouri really played some of the best football this season? Prior to their win Saturday, most said no. Yet they will be rewarded more for one game than Utah has been for an entire season's worth of play.
But the argument dictates that they've played a harder schedule than the Utes. Since they're undefeated, it's only right to assume they're a better team.
Maybe they are. Maybe they're not.
This is a team, after all, that needed a miracle to beat the San Diego St. Aztecs. This is a team many have convinced themselves might be a true national championship contender - even more so than either Utah or TCU.
Yet they almost lost to a program that is, at best, fourth in the Mountain West. A team that isn't bad - but certainly isn't anything great. They did, after all, lose to a so-so BYU team that has had all sorts of issues this season.
And that takes me back to my original point - are the Tigers playing some of the best football in America right now?
I don't know. What I do know is that they are getting the benefit of the doubt due to one win and Utah is widely being dismissed even though they've been killing teams for the last six weeks.
Of course, I get there is always going to be the counter argument that if you play bad teams, you're going to win. I don't disagree. Missouri very well could be 7-0 with Utah's schedule. I don't discount that. But like I said, it isn't the schedule that matters, rather what you do with that schedule.
For the last six weeks, the Utes have outscored their opponents 307-66 and that is a statistic that no other team in the nation can best.
The Utes have been, for six consecutive weeks, the most dominant team in college football. So they're not just beating bad teams, they're destroying bad teams. How many other top-ten teams can say they've done that week in and week out?
Well let's look at the top with Auburn. The Auburn Tigers have now become the popular pick to win the national championship due to some fairly nice wins over ranked opponents. But the Tigers haven't been flawless on their way to an 8-0 start.
There was a three point win at Mississippi State the second week of the season. The Bulldogs aren't bad, but this is a team that last week almost lost, at home, to UAB - a Conference USA cellar dweller. Then there was their come from behind win, at home, over Clemson in overtime. Those Tigers are barely above .500 and just snapped a three game losing streak a couple weeks ago.
Finally, there was their three point win over Kentucky - which came on a last second field goal. Now I'm not suggesting Kentucky is bad, but they're not a top-25 team and they've already slipped to the bottom of the SEC East.
Auburn has been able to surge up the polls on the backs of perceived top-level teams in the SEC. Yet how many of those programs are really legitimate contenders?
I'd say their most impressive win of the year came against South Carolina. But even those Gamecocks were upended in Lexington against the Wildcats.
LSU? They were ahead of Utah until last week. But why were they ahead of the Utes? Because they knocked off the Florida Gators in Gainsville? Get in line! Hell, even MSU did that.
But these Tigers had one of the most narrowest of margins in the first six weeks of the season. They beat a depleted North Carolina team by only six points in a de facto home game. They looked rather uninspired against West Virginia - who probably won't even win the Big East this year. Then there was their game against Tennessee. Had it not been for a Vols penalty - which ultimately did not decide what could have been the last play, the Tigers would have been unmasked long before their game against Auburn.
But because they lived on the edge and succeeded in doing so, even against so-so teams, they vaulted up the rankings and provided Auburn with a legitimate win.
It's not just the SEC, though. It's every BCS conference. Look at Michigan State. They're potentially one victory away from going undefeated the remainder of the season and playing in the national championship game. Yet this is a team that needed a fake field goal in overtime, at home, to beat Notre Dame. The same Irish who are now fighting for bowl contention. Then there was last week's game where they had to come from behind to beat Northwestern. They trailed that game 17-0 and only managed to seize the lead late in the fourth quarter.
Props for getting it done. But they're only where they are at based on one performance - their win over Wisconsin. It was a solid win and they deserve praise for it. However, as I asked with Missouri, are they playing the best football in the country right now?
I am still skeptical.
Now to show you I'm not completely biased here, let's look at the 2008 Utes.
They had some ugly wins. They struggled in games they should have easily won and because of that, I was often skeptical that year about their ability to contend for a BCS berth. It wasn't really until after the TCU game that I started believing this team was capable of putting together a performance worthy of that consideration.
And you know what? The same could be said about every single one of those teams I mentioned above. If Missouri and Michigan State and Auburn win out, certainly they will have proven, over the long haul, they are playing elite football.
But we're not talking about the potential of winning out right now. We're talking about a team in its current state. The fact is, no one knows what will happen this weekend. Missouri just might lose to Nebraska and Auburn could lose to Ole Miss. Hell, even the Utes might falter against the Falcons.
That's what those polls are for. Not these polls. These polls today, released after last week's action, should be there to decide who is playing the best football at the moment - not speculate what they might do down the line.
In that regard, I do take issue with the argument that the Utes aren't worthy of their ranking or being in any type of BCS or national championship picture because of who they play. I take issue with it because I think it is very difficult for any team in the country, regardless of who they play or what level they're at, to dominate week in and week out like the Utes have done.
Case in point, TCU. The Frogs are slotted ahead of Utah. Most in the media are already predicting TCU will beat the Utes November 6th. They very well may be right. But while the Frogs have looked impressive for most of the season, they haven't looked nearly as dominant as Utah.
They struggled for most of their game against Souther Methodist. They had issues with Colorado State early in the first half a few weeks ago. Even two weeks ago against BYU, they didn't cruise like many thought they would. Yes, the Frogs eventually won that game 31-3. But this was a game where TCU only led 3-0 with two minutes left in the first half.
Sure, they finally broke through and managed 14 points to close out the half, but there was a struggle there. Far more struggle than anything the Utes have seen outside their home opener against Pittsburgh.
Does that mean TCU is a bad team? Of course not. I actually think they're better than their ranking. But it proves my point about how difficult it is to really roll teams every single week.
Now think about what Utah has done the last six games and try to remember a team that last did something similar.
It certainly wasn't Boise State last year. The Broncos did look good in almost every game and they proved they were capable of beating pretty much anyone at any time. But there was a closer than expected seven point win at Tulsa - who finished 2009 with a losing record. They struggled at times against Louisiana Tech and didn't blow away Nevada like they had in years past.
Even this season, even as recently as Tuesday, Boise State wasn't as impressive as we've come to expect from their program. They won by a comfortable margin, but the box score shows that Louisiana Tech was competitive in that game all the way through the third quarter.
When was the last time a team took Utah into the half, let alone the third quarter?
That is my point in all of this. Even the best teams slowed down a bit against weaker competition. The worst blemish over the last half-season on the Utes' schedule is their 30-6 win over Wyoming and that was a game well in control at the half.
So yeah, I have a problem when people tell me Utah is only where they're at because they've played nobody. I disagree. I think Pitt will prove to be a good team. I think Iowa State has already proven they're capable of beating teams far more talented than their own.
But more importantly, there has not been any real indication in the last six weeks there is something faulty with this team. Even when you load up on cupcakes, deficiencies show themselves. Just look back to last year. Utah opened up that season 8-1 and yet they had so many unimpressive wins over bad teams, we didn't quite know how good that team could be. Turns out, they weren't bad. But they weren't anything special. That should have been obvious when they only beat San Jose State by ten or struggled against Colorado State and Wyoming.
To even go further than that, look at the 2008 BYU Cougars. They managed to win ten games, but even their weaker schedule at times couldn't mask some of the problems that would become apparent against better teams.
Their one-point win over an awful Washington team should have sent up the first red flag. Yes, they blitzed UCLA 59-0 in Provo - but that looked like an anomaly when you factored in their performances against Utah State and New Mexico the two weeks leading up to the TCU game. Sure enough, the Frogs proved BYU was nothing more than a paper dragon by easily defeating them 32-7.
Even after that loss, their lone until the Utah game, they struggled at home against UNLV and nearly lost against Colorado State.
Five teams the Cougars should have easily defeated and five games where, at varying times, they struggled mightily. Do you have the same sense of concern this year with the Utes?
Of course not.
Utah is killing it every week, even against supposed inferior teams. No other program in the top-ten can say that. Not even Oregon, who struggled at 1-7 Washington State a few weeks ago.