Utes look to do the unthinkable

Gene Sweeney Jr.

Can Utah pull off one of the biggest upsets in school history?

I'm guessing not many fans walked into Rice-Eccles Stadium a month or so ago thinking Utah would beat Stanford. In fact, I'd wager most fans wrote that game off as a loss because, well, it was Stanford. Yet, even though we didn't necessarily believe, I think most of us entertained the idea - mostly because it was at home, the Utes had played relatively well up to that point and seemed to match up well with the Cardinal.

Sure enough...

So, I know we've been here before.

Problem is, this isn't the early October Utes. Since that upset, they've collapsed - losing at Arizona, at USC and at home against Arizona State. They went from 4-2 to being on the verge of 4-6. It has been a disastrous last few weeks and it all culminates with a game against an angry, tough Oregon Ducks team on the road.

Not exactly the recipe for success.

And yet, that makes a win that much greater. If somehow, whether by bending reality or other extraordinary events, the Utes leave Eugene victorious, it will go down as, most likely, the biggest upset in program history.

But the reason it would be the biggest upset in history proves just how unlikely a win would be - Oregon is in a different galaxy than Utah right now.

Yes, Marcus Mariota was injured last week and they did lose to Stanford, a team Utah beat, but let's be honest - it'll take a Herculean effort to win. There is no indication these Utes can contend, let alone win - and it's why Las Vegas has 'em 27 point dogs. I can't remember the last time Utah was that big of an underdog.

That shows you just how dire the situation is and why no one, no matter how big the diehard, should be disillusioned enough to believe there is a chance.

As much as I'd love an upset, and felt the potential was there against Stanford, I've seen nothing from this team the last few weeks that gives me reason to believe they can do it. It's just not there. Offensively, they don't have the firepower to go head-to-head with the Ducks. Which sucks, because I think, defensively, they're good enough to keep the game respectable - for a half, anyway.

But no offense spells trouble. Especially when that no offense turns the ball over whenever it pushes the ball down field through the air. I know people want to overlook Oregon's defense, but it's versatile and fast. If Travis Wilson couldn't find room to breathe at home against ASU, does anyone really believe he'll find it against Oregon?

Hell, is Wilson even healthy?

Bottom line, this is one of those games where you just hope to get out alive. I hate sayin' it, and I can't remember ever saying it since I started this blog, but that's exactly how I see it. I felt Utah had a shot a few weeks ago, maybe not a big one, but a shot none the less, and now I'd be happy if they just cover. Even that, though, will be tough with how mentally fragile this team looks on the road.

So, Saturday very well could be ugly. The hope, I guess, is that they aren't so wrecked by the defeat that it spills over into their must-win game against Washington State.

Then again, maybe they stun the world!


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