I was looking over Utah's 2010 schedule to see if anything could be gleaned from it heading into 2011 and I really don't know what to make of it.
Certainly the three blowout losses to TCU, Notre Dame and Boise State come to mind whenever anyone mentions last season. However, I can't help but think that, warts and all, it wasn't all that bad of a deal for Utah.
In fact, I think it was a better overall season than 2009, even though the Utes ended that year on a far better note with their Poinsettia Bowl win than they did last year.
Outside that Cal victory, I can't really point to one win from '09 that stands out. Maybe Air Force, which has produced good teams under Troy Calhoun, but that's even a stretch.
So even though there were some bitter losses in '10, ones that I won't even begin to defend right now, overall, I still look at the season as pretty successful. They defeated Pitt in the first game, who then went on to win a share of the Big East (I know, I know...), went on the road and wrecked Iowa State, defeated a good Air Force team in Colorado Springs, gave San Diego State their lone home loss of the year and ended it all with a win over BYU.
Yes, we can focus on the losses to TCU and Notre Dame and a lesser extent Boise State (even though Jordan Wynn sat that game out), but I'm not ready to dismiss 2010 because of it.
I want to focus on one of those wins that I think has been downplayed a lot over the last year. In fact, I actually watched the game, which can be viewed for free on YouTube, for the first time since it took place and it led me to want to make this post.
I think we are so quick to ignore that win over the Aztecs because A) the Utes were favored and B) it's San Diego State. For fans who have followed Utah football for a long, long time, it's hard to wrap our minds around the idea of San Diego State being competitive. Since the creation of the Mountain West in 1999, the Aztecs consistently underperformed - in fact, their first bowl game since the conference formed came this past season.
But it was an impressive win. Maybe the most impressive of the season when you consider Utah had entered with zero confidence and was playing an upstart program that, as I said, hadn't lost at home that season. San Diego State finished 6-1 at home when you count their win over Navy in the Poinsettia Bowl.
A week before the Utah game, the Aztecs took TCU to the wire on the road and definitely had some swagger, as they entered the game winners of four of their last five.
They also held the lead late against a Missouri team on the road that would finish the season with ten wins.
It was an impressive victory.
What does this have to do with 2011? I'm not exactly sure. I guess a lot of people point to Utah's losses as proof they might not be able to compete week-to-week in the Pac-12. Maybe they're right. But it also seems people ignore the good wins. Wins like this one. Wins that, at the time might not have seemed all that great, but in retrospect, hold up better than initially thought.
Anyway, if you have time, go rewatch the game. It's a fun one. Maybe one of the most entertaining games of the season (outside the Iowa State win).