Moving forward from Saturday's debacle, I now turn your attention to the San Diego State Aztecs. I would hardly qualify this game as must-win, but it is important because it provides Utah a chance to gain some momentum heading into the Holy War. That's big, especially after how they struggled nearly across the board against TCU.
Now the Aztecs aren't a really good team. They blew a huge game last Saturday against Wyoming and it probably cost them a bowl bid. But they are at least good enough to put a scare into the Utes if Utah does not take this game seriously or they're hungover from last week's big-time defeat.
This is a team that might have the tools to compete for the conference championship, but they're surely built to test the programs that are. That includes Utah, even though they're probably out of the running when it comes to this year's crown. But a loss here could spiral the Utes' season out of control and definitely ruin what has been a fairly decent rebuilding year. However, I do not see that happening.
I don't see that happening because I expect Utah to be intensely focused this week. They should be angry after their last performance and what better team to take it out on than one that hasn't been relevant in college football since the Clinton administration? Exactly. Don't expect the Utes to pity themselves too long. They'll probably come out of the gate looking to set the tone early and bulldoze their way to victory, crushing the Aztec dreams of receiving a bowl berth.
But exactly what should we expect from Utah Saturday? I'm looking at nothing more than a complete effort. I want to dominate from start to finish. I want a similar game to what we saw two weeks ago against New Mexico. The Utes are hurting right now and nothing can make them feel better more than by taking out all their aggression on another team.
Now ideally, I'd love for them to do it in Provo a week and a half from today, but that ain't going to happen if they struggle with San Diego State. What this game will provide is a confidence boost heading into the second-biggest game of the year and probably the most important to Utah fans (I mean, who'd you rather beat, TCU or BYU with all things considered?).
Now that's what I want to see. Is that what we should expect?
This isn't the 2008 Aztecs (a team Utah walloped 63-14). They're better coached and most importantly, their defense is being run by one of the Utes' biggest nemesis - Rocky Long.
He's the former New Mexico coach who always knew how to handicap Utah, regardless of how good they were. I expect his defense to be just as fierce, though I think he's at a bigger disadvantage now that he isn't fully running a team. That responsibility goes to Brady Hoke, who's in his first season at SDSU. Hoke came via Ball State and thus far, has made the Aztecs a bit more competitive than they were last year, but still hasn't completely turned that program around.
With how demoralizing their loss was last week, you've got to think they're even more shattered emotionally than Utah. I like that. I think if the Utes get up on them early, it's over. Of course, if Utah lets them hang around, things could get pretty interesting.
Hopefully it's the former and by the third quarter we're already talking about the Holy War.
What do you expect Saturday?