The rarity of a blowout conference loss could end when Utah moves to P-10

Remember how perplexed and emotionally wrecked many of us were when TCU rolled the Utes last November? I do

In fact, I'm not sure I am even over that loss yet. It was as humiliating as it was stunning. 

Stunning because it's just rare to experience that type of loss in conference play. It doesn't happen much for Utah. Never has in the Mountain West. That could change, though, when they move to the Pac-10. 

So as much as we tried to dissect the defeat and question whether the talent level between the Utes and Frogs really was 27 points, we probably should have just shrugged our shoulders and moved on to the next week. 

Because that's exactly what we'll probably be doing in the years to come. If there is one thing remarkably consistent about the Pac-10, it's its top teams completely laying down one or two times in conference play and getting absolutely dominated to the point of utter ridiculousness. 

Often it can't be explained. It was just a hiccup that happens and no team is immune to the prospects. You take your punches and move forward hoping to not repeat them against another opponent. 

But it's something every top Pac-10 team deals with. So we Ute fans better get used to those types of defeats - they will happen.

Case in point: Utah's largest conference defeats since the Mountain West formed were: 

1999 - 43-29 loss to Wyoming

2002 - 36-17 loss to San Diego State

2005 - 31-15 loss to Wyoming

2007 - 27-0 loss to UNLV

2009 - 55-28 loss to TCU

Those are the largest margins of defeat in conference play by the Utes (games exceeding more than two scores). 

In the whole history of the Mountain West, the Utes have been blown out only five times. They average a blowout once every two years. Sometimes even longer. 

Only a handful of those losses even approach total humiliation. The rest were bad, but hardly anything disastrous. 

Now compare that to the Pac-10 and its top programs.

We'll start with Cal after the jump...

Since Jeff Tedford took over, the Golden Bears have been blown out in the following conference games: 

2003 - 35-21 loss to Oregon State

2005 - 35-10 loss to SC

2006 - 23-9 loss to SC

2007 - 37-23 loss to Washington

2008 - 42-27 loss to Arizona, 34-21 loss to Oregon St. 

2009 - 42-3 loss to Oregon, 30-3 loss to SC, 31-14 loss to Oregon St., 42-10 loss to Washington

As you can see, especially recently, Cal has had a great deal of blowout losses. This is only from 2003 and some seasons, specifically 2008 and 2009, they were blown out multiple times. 

But it isn't just Cal, either.

Oregon over the same period has had some conference doozies: 

2003 - 55-16 loss to Washington State, 59-14 loss to Arizona State, 42-10 loss to Washington

2004 - 50-21 loss to Oregon St.

2005 - 45-13 loss to SC

2006 - 45-24 loss to Cal, 35-10 loss to SC, 37-10 loss to Arizona,

2007 - 16-0 loss to UCLA

2008 - 44-10 loss to SC

Like Cal, Oregon has produced a blowout loss once every season since 2003 (except for 2009). Also like the Golden Bears, they've had a few seasons where they got abused more than once. 

Some of those losses had to hurt (16-0 loss to UCLA? 50-21 loss to their rival?).

And what about their rival? 

Oregon St. over the same time frame: 

2003 - 38-17 loss to Washington State, 34-20 loss to Oregon, 52-28 loss to SC

2004 - 49-7 loss to Cal

2005 - 42-24 loss to Arizona State, 51-28 loss to UCLA, 56-14 loss to Oregon

2006 - 41-13 loss to Cal, 25-7 loss to UCLA 

2007 - 40-14 loss to UCLA, 24-3 loss to SC

2008 - 65-38 loss to Oregon

Oregon St. has followed a similar path as Cal and Oregon.

Imagine losing to BYU 65-38 or 56-14. The pain! The horror! 

Of course, a great deal of the above losses came against the SC Trojans when they were owning the Pac-10. They come out of this looking pretty good. Of their few conference losses from 2003 to 2009, only two could be considered blowouts and they came last season (47-20 loss to Oregon, 55-21 loss to Stanford) - that was when the Trojans were limping into the end of the Pete Carroll era. 

This list doesn't include teams that have shown mild signs of success over the same span (basically the rest of the conference) and only goes back to 2003, when I arbitrarily picked a year to coincide with Jeff Tedford's arrival in Berkeley. 

But it gives you an idea of what to expect. Good Pac-10 teams were worked fairly easily by other conference opponents. The type of loss we saw against TCU could become a yearly thing for the Utes once they join the Pac-10 - regardless of how great they are. In fact, based on what has happened to other elite Pac-10 teams recently, expect it and get used to it. 

Will it hurt? Sure. But it probably won't indicate any shifting dynamics for either team. No more than when the Utes were shutout by the Rebels. Utah's football program didn't implode that September day and certainly UNLV didn't surge in the wake of their huge upset. 

It's just those types of losses will become more and more common. So the next time Utah loses 55-28 to a conference foe, it probably won't usher in the pending apocalypse of the football program like a great deal of us (raises hand) thought when we went down like the Hindenburg against the Horned Frogs last year.

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