When Utah takes the field against the Boise St. Broncos, not many people will give them a chance to win. In fact, they enter the bowl season as one of the largest underdogs at +15. That margin might be hard to swallow for Ute fans because of this team's recent bowl history (they've won nine straight, the longest current active streak), but with how badly they've looked recently, it's not surprising.
In fact, I think this is less an indictment on Utah's play and more a show of support for just how good of a program Boise State really is. They've earned this. They've earned the praise heaped on them over the last two years and thought they fell to Nevada on the road, this is still a team I believe that is capable of beating anyone at any time.
They are that good. They are good enough that, if we didn't have a corrupted system, I could easily see them winning the national championship - yes, even with their loss.
So you won't find me over the next couple of weeks dismissing the Broncos. I think they are every bit legitimate as their fans do and though Vegas is a far cry from Pasadena or Tempe, they'll be ready to show the world they're just as good as their billing.
That's what faces Utah in this bowl game. This is a team, that over the last three years, has managed only two losses. I don't care what your schedule is or the perceived weakness of your conference, that is a pretty remarkable stretch.
Of course, the Utes have managed only two more losses over the same run. So, while we shine light on the Broncos' great run, it would be rather incredible if we didn't at least point to Utah's recent success.
But even though both teams have a similar stretch run over the last three years (both enjoying BCS bowl wins), it's not hard to admit Boise State is a far better team this year. It's obvious with the talent they return and how utterly dominant they've been for all but two games.
Utah, on the other hand, looked capable of keeping with the Broncos earlier in the season, but trailed off quickly toward the end with two blowout losses over TCU and Notre Dame. It's those two games that, unfortunately, have really defined the Utes on the national stage. It's a reason why, when talking about the prospects of a blowout, most in the media are so dismissive of Utah.
But this is a Utah blog and I am a Utah fan. I'm not so easily manipulated. I won't ever concede a loss - no matter how stacked the odds appear to be.
That was the case in 2008 when the Utes were readying for their game against the Alabama Crimson Tide. Not many nationally picked Utah to compete, let alone win. We know how that turned out.
Will the Las Vegas Bowl prove to be a sequel to the Sugar Bowl? Maybe. Maybe not...
This is, after all, not the 2008 Utes. That team was good. Really good. 2010, at its best, only appears to be just good.
Not great and surely not BCS bowl worthy.
Boise State, however, is. This is a team that I believe deserves a spot in the BCS - even if they own a loss.
They're a national champion contender for a reason and have a bone or two to pick because not only are they taking Utah's place in the soon-to-be depleted Mountain West Conference, they were left out of the Big Bowl picture while a team like UConn received an automatic bid. That just ain't right.
So why am I not ready to dismiss Utah's chances?
Because it's the Utes. What more reason do you need?