The success of this season can be summed up by just one number:
Utah needs six wins. They're in dire need of six wins. They can't afford another losing season. It just can't happen. The coaching staff I am sure will spend the next few weeks reminding the team of this.
You know, I really don't care how they get to six - whether it's by beating Arizona State and Colorado or Washington State and Colorado ... hell, I don't care if they get there by beating just the Sun Devils and Cougars. Just get there.
It's seriously hard to downplay the importance of a winning season. Programs can't sustain losing for long before the bottom falls out and everything goes to hell. Just ask Cal, Arizona and ASU fans. They've experienced slumps that have driven out popular head coaches because, for reasons that I don't need to explain, turning a losing program around isn't easy. No matter how experienced the head man is.
The good thing right now, I guess, is that the Utes aren't a losing program. One season doesn't designate 'em as such - but two? Then it gets tricky. Then it becomes a trend.
We can't allow that to happen. It'll kill momentum, confidence and worse, recruiting. Losing programs generally don't recruit well - programs still trying to find their standing in the entire recruiting game will take an even bigger hit. Hell, it's not like Utah is lighting it up in Pac-12 recruiting, pulling in these past three season middle of the conference classes, the addition of consecutive losing seasons could all but doom 'em to the bottom of the conference in that regard.
So, yes, they've got to get six. Four to get two. It's doable. It has to be. There is really no other choice. Not anymore. Not after they bungled last season and then the start of the second half of this season.
Granted, it won't be easy. Travis Wilson is injured. Utah's offensive line is offensive and key injuries at tight end and wide receiver have all but decimated scoring threats. But no excuses - it has to happen. They have to figure out a way to win two more games. They do that, and this season can be salvaged. They do that, and I think we'll all feel better than we do right now. They do that, and faith will be restored that things are actually heading in the right direction.
But another losing season will expose some major flaws:
Utah will fail to once again beat ASU or lose, once again, on the road ... or even more damaging - they'll fail at both.
I won't even entertain the idea of the Utes entering the Colorado game 5-6 and losing to the Buffaloes at home with everything on the line.
So, this isn't just about extending the season and establishing something to sell recruits, it's also about righting wrongs established the past two seasons - namely an inability to beat certain teams and crapping the bed on the road. It's likely one of those problems extends beyond 2013, but it's tolerable if it's just one - if it's just the Utes losing, on the road, to an improved Wazzu team while winning out at home.
A bowl game is the goal now. 6-6 is what we need. Anything better will be gravy and anything worse will continue the Utes' disappointing arrival to the Pac-12.
Can they get to six?