In mid August, ESPN's Pac 12 blooger Ted Miller offered dream and nightmare scenarios for each Pac 12 team this season. In his utah write-up, he illustrated Utah's dream scenario as going 11-2, beating Texas in the Alamo Bowl. His nightmare scenario, oddly, reads almost exactly how the season has played out so far. Scary.
Just as Utah embarrassed BYU at home in 2011, the Cougars return the favor in 2012. And, with the Utes putting the Holy War on a two -year hiatus starting in 2014, it seems a 50-21 win in Rice-Eccles Stadium is particularly sweet.
"Is this particularly sweet?" BYU coach Bronco Mendenhall asks. "Maybe."
The Utes fall the next weekend at Arizona State, 27-24, with QB Jordan Wynn throwing a late interception on the Sun Devils 31-yard line. After a bye, USC rips the Utes 45-17, sacking Wynn five times.
The Utes are unable to get John White IV going and protection for Wynn has been terrible. Questions at offensive tackle obviously didn't get answered. On defense, inexperience at linebacker is showing, but the lack of a pass rush is most surprising.
UCLA slips the Utes after Brett Hundley leads a game-winning TD drive in the waning moments. Utah ends a four-game losing streak with a win at Oregon State, and Whittingham reminds his team it opened the 2011 Pac-12 season at 0-4. But California pulls away from the Utes in the second half to win 33-21.
Utah is competitive for the most part, but it still lacks the depth and variety of offensive weapons to consistently win against Pac-12 foes. The Utes nip Washington State at home, 35-33, but fall at Washington 28-20. A win over Arizona leaves Utah, at 5-6, needing to beat hated archrival Colorado to earn bowl eligibility. Same thing for the Buffaloes.
Utah, down 17-13 with 1:30 left, drives to the Buffs 17-yard line. On first down, Wynn underthrows a wide-open DeVonte Christopher in the endzone.
"As has been the case all season, Wynn's ability to deliver the ball has been inconsistent," the announcer says. "The key here is to not force things."
On second down, Wynn sees Dres Anderson at the 5-yard line, but his pass sails off target and is intercepted by Ray Polk, who high steps down the sideline for a 95-yard touchdown as the Folsom Stadium crowd goes nuts.
The Utes finish 5-7, their first losing record since 2002.
"It's pretty clear that we are still a work in progress as far as making the jump from the Mountain West Conference to the Pac-12," Utah coach Kyle Whittingham says.
BYU, which goes 3-0 vs. the Pac-12 and finishes 12-1, is invited to join the SEC after the Cougars beat Alabama in the Sugar Bowl.
"Oh, OK," BYU athletic director Tom Holmoe says. "If you twist my arm, we'll take that ole $25 million."
I'm sure most of us who read that before the season scoffed at the notion of that nightmare scenario.
Now what do we think?