Utes still searching for statement win

Chris Nicoll-USA TODAY Sports

Utah has had chances in the past to make a statement in the Pac-12, yet in every big game, they've folded. Will Thursday be different?

One major constant that has plagued the Utah football program since their joining the Pac-12 has been their inability to win big conference games. While they've had ample opportunity for such victory, in every major game, the outcome has always been the same - a Utes loss.

Sure, we're only going on three seasons in this new conference, but the losses against good teams have certainly piled up. It's about time Utah break this trend and nab themselves a quality Pac-12 victory.

It's odd, because the law of averages would suggest the Utes would have done that at least a handful of times by now. I say this not because they've lost all those games, but that they lost many by a respectable margin. We're not talking blowouts, which is something facing Colorado, who joined the conference at the same time. Many of these games have been competitive, a few have come down to a play or two. And yet, at the end of the day, when the clock hits zero, the Utes are always the losers. Always.

It was that way in their first-ever conference game, which ended on a blocked field goal, and it carried over into close losses against UCLA, USC again, Oregon State (twice) and Arizona. In each instance, the Utes played tough, often came close to winning, but eventually couldn't get it done. That doesn't even get into the less competitive contests against Washington (twice) and Arizona State (twice). On the whole, Utah's record against winning Pac-12 teams is dismal. In fact, it's worse than dismal - it's non-existent. Even UCLA, who the Utes defeated in 2011, probably their biggest win as a Pac-12 member, finished that season 6-8. Yes, they won the Pac-12 South (by default), but it was a losing team  - one so bad that their head coach was fired.

So, here we are, in year three, and we're still waiting for that victory. It almost came a few weeks ago against Oregon State, but fate would have none of that.

We're also on the eve of another big game and another chance to make some noise. Can the Utes do it?

It'd be a heckuva way to reemerge out of the darkness that has dominated much of the last two seasons.

One thing I know is that I've been waiting for that big win since the 2009 Sugar Bowl. They haven't come. Utah has folded, beyond just their rivalry game against BYU, in nearly every major contest. It's about time that changes. It's about time they step up and become that team that used to thrive in the big-game atmosphere. For a while there, it felt the Utes were unbeatable in those types of games and now? Now we're so shell shocked that we're measuring success this Thursday by whether or not Utah actually makes it a game - not whether they'll win.

That's sad.

That has to change. But it can only change with victory. Until the Utes actually win one of those big games, make that statement, we'll be left doubting their ability and wondering if they'll ever be able to do it.

Hopefully Thursday puts to rest those doubts. It would go along way toward defining the Pac-12 Era Utes.

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