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Washington's win over Stanford last night just proves how deep the Pac-12 really is becoming. Is that a benefit to Utah right now?
The Pac-12 is putting together a pretty good season this year. Washington's win over Stanford last night only solidifies the argument that the conference is not only competitive, but competitively deep. Outside Oregon, who appears to be the cream of the crop of the conference right now, there doesn't seem to be much of an edge for the next few teams. That probably means we're looking at more contests like Thursday's as the conference, as it has had a history of doing in the past, beats up on itself.
So, what does this mean for Utah? Well, I guess it shows that on any given night, anything can happen. Stanford was supposed to challenge Oregon for the North and though they're still technically alive in the race, they don't look nearly as threatening as they did after their victory over USC ... who many expected to challenge for the national championship. Is Stanford better than the Trojans? Probably not. But the difference between both programs right now is small enough that they were capable of springing the upset. The same could be said for Washington, who got blitzed a couple weeks earlier by LSU.
If the Utes can move a few notches upward and prove they're at least an average Pac-12 team this year, there could be the potential for a Stanford-like upset of the Trojans next week. Of course, Utah has yet to prove they're capable of being on the same level as Washington or Stanford or even Oregon State ... teams I think are all capable of pulling big upsets.
With there being so much parity in this conference, it could prove a benefit or a challenge for Utah. It's a benefit because maybe there will be games they can position themselves to win ... but it's also a challenge if they're not very good. With the conference being solid, really, from the top to the near-bottom, there won't be anymore semi-gimmies on the schedule like last year. The schedule will toughen up, and has toughened up, so, really, Utah needs to toughen up along with it.
If they're going to succeed this year, if they're going to push for a bowl bid, they need to use that parity as an asset. If they don't, then it will certainly work against 'em and we'll quickly find out that while the conference is good, and deep, it's only in spite of Utah and not necessarily because of Utah.