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Utes superb play against BCS teams

This is what it's all about, getting those wins against BCS opponents. Sure, not all have been great (Indiana comes to mind), but they're still the Big Boys and a win is a win. In fact, prior to Utah's wins over Indiana in 2001 and 2002, most Hoosier fans expected to roll the Utes. Even though Utah won only 5 games in 2002, they owned a dominate 40-13 win over the Hoosiers that year. That's just one victory in a long list since the Ron McBride era and hopefully it continues this season, with three games against BCS opponents.

Utah's success against BCS opponents is pretty impressive, when you consider so many non-BCS teams have struggled over the years. But where does it stack up against other non-BCS programs? Especially teams like Fresno State, whose reputation was built on slaying BCS opponents, TCU and Boise State. Well I did the research and this is what I found.

Obviously the BCS began in 1998, but I think only 9 years is a fairly small sample size because of the fact all BCS opponents would have to be out of conference games and there just aren't many, even if you include bowls. So I started with 1992, which gives us a 15 year window, a big enough sample size that should tell us which teams have been more successful against the elite, even if they weren't BCS at the time (though even in 1992 there was obviously big conferences and little ones).

Team Record Winning % Opponents Winning %
TCU 13-10 .565 .476
Utah 18-17 .514 .525
Air Force 9-14 .391 .616
Toledo 9-14 .391 .506
Hawaii 12-19-1 .390 .553
Bowling Green 11-18 .379 .580
East Carolina 24-42 .363 .527
BYU 16-28 .363 .527
Miami (OH) 9-18-1 .339 .523
Fresno State 14-29 .325 .523

Two things jump out at me, Utah has a damn good record against BCS opponents and East Carolina has played a ton of BCS opponents. Utah's 18 wins isn't technically the most, but when you consider teams with above .500 winning percentages, it is. And it's not like Utah played poor teams, either, as their opponents winning percentage is at .525. TCU's time in the the SWC was not calculated, so to get a better idea, I'll also look at records against the BCS since its inception in 1998.

Team Record Winning % Opponents Winning %
TCU 12-6 .666 .487
Utah 12-9 .571 .485
Air Force 7-7 .500 .604
Bowling Green 8-11 .421 .590
Colorado State 7-11 .388 .574
Toledo 7-11 .388 .503
Fresno State 10-17 .370 .578
BYU 10-17 .370 .556
East Carolina 11-12 .343 .503
Hawaii 6-13 .315 .595

The list actually doesn't change much, as all the top-10 teams from the first are also in the second, but a few spots are different. It's interesting to note that Utah, along with TCU, have won the most games against non-BCS opponents. And since Utah and TCU are the only two above .500, I think that's a big reason as why the two's opponent winning percentage isn't above .500 either.

Comparing both lists, not much has changed in college football over the past 15 years, at least in terms of wins over BCS teams. I did find it interesting that Boise State, the current non-BCS darlings, didn't make the second list. In fact, Boise State owns only 4 BCS wins since 1998.

Now whether the Utes can keep this great play up remains to be seen. They have three shots at beating BCS opponents this year, but all are probable losses. And the last time the Utes actually defeated a BCS team was Georgia Tech in the 2005 Emerald Bowl. Winning these games, especially this season, turns national heads and brings notice to your program. Utah has been known as of late as being one of the better non-BCS teams, but now it's time to elevate their stature to one of the best. Hopefully, with this tough schedule, they can do that.