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FanPulse Top 25 Week 7: Utah Wins a Blowout, Falls in the Rankings

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The FanPulse Top 25 is back and Utah is dropping in the Top 25 despite winning a blowout. This is familiar territory for the Utes. We are now getting a clear picture of which teams have a shot at a New Year’s Bowl.

The way Utah plays football, it’s not often that we get to experience a blowout similar to the one we watched against Oregon State on Saturday. The strategy of playing strong defense and running the ball a lot is great for winning close games, but rarely does it translate into blowout wins. But this week the Utes massacred the Beavers 52-7, and the game was never even remotely close. Utah was up 21-0 by the end of the first quarter, and things progressively got worse for Oregon State from there. The Beavers didn’t even score points until there was a minute left in the game. That garbage time touchdown cut the lead to 45 points.

Utah controlled the game from start to finish. There wasn’t a second in the game when the Beavers even made the Utes sweat about the outcome of the game. It was a dominating win that Utah fans rarely get to experience. Sure, Utah has blowout wins from time to time, but it’s usually a game where it’s close in the first quarter, the Utes take a ten-point lead into halftime and then continue to pull away in the second half to win by 28. Usually those games are still close, or the other team has an outside shot of winning well into the third quarter.

That was not the case against Oregon State, and it was truly cathartic to watch. Being a Utah fan means seeing lots of wins, but it also means been ridiculously stressed during most of those wins. It was a breath of fresh air to watch Utah destroy a lesser opponent and assert dominance. If we exclude FCS teams, Utah hasn’t had a dominant win like this since the 2015 Oregon game. And even that game only saw Utah lead by 14 at the half.

You would have to go all the way back to 2012 to find a game where Utah dominated the same way the team dominated Oregon State last week. It was a 49-6 smackdown of Washington State back when Washington State was extremely bad at football. (Hilarious side note about this game: After returning the kickoff to start the second half for a touchdown, Kyle Whittingham had the Utes go for the two-point conversion. Utah was up 37-0. I can’t find any explanation as to why Utah did that, but it’s hilarious and I wish Whittingham was always this aggressive. Utah got the conversion to make it 39-0.)

It’s impossible to say if this rare blowout is a sign of something special for the Utes or just an implication of how bad Oregon State is at football. The Utah team that massacred Washington State in 2012 only went 5-7. The 2015 Utah had flashes of brilliance and finished 10-3. But it was nice to have the Utes out there dominating the week before one of the biggest games of the season. And that’s an experience we don’t get enough as Utah fans.

With that introduction finished, let’s move on to discussing the true measure of a team’s success, where they rank in the polls! Good wins don’t mean anything unless they are followed by a lower number appearing next to your team’s name in the polls.

We are halfway through the regular season (fights back tears) but most teams have only played two or three conference games. That means a lot of teams have yet to face their toughest opponents, and there will be lots of volatility in the rankings during the second half of the season. Except maybe in the Top 4. But we’ve known that all season.

I now present to you Week 7 of the SB Nation FanPulse College Football Top 25:

As always, here is the BlockU Top 25 consisting only of votes from you Utah fans:

Ah that old familiar feeling of Utah being disrespected in a national poll. This season there really hasn’t been a point where it felt like Utah was being disrespected nationally by the fans. Utah was ranked highly when the season started, made its way into the Top 10, and the subsequent fall after the loss to USC felt justified. After two impressive wins, Utah is up to No. 13 in the AP Poll and No. 13 in the BlockU poll. However, the FanPulse Top 25 has Utah all the way down at No. 16.

Minnesota is ahead of Utah in the National Poll, but that will work itself out shortly. Minnesota is this year’s team that is undefeated and ranked highly in the middle of the season only because they haven’t played a good team. The Golden Gophers’ best win to this point is a home win against Illinois, or maybe it was the seven-point win against South Dakota State to start the season. Minnesota still has games against Iowa, Penn State and Wisconsin on the schedule. They won’t be this highly ranked for much longer. But never forget, ROW THE BOAT.

It’s interesting getting to see how fans of specific teams vote because we get to see how Pac-12 fanbases are feeling about the conference throughout the season. Right now, the Pac-12 fans are more bullish on the top teams in the Pac-12 than the rest of the nation. This might seem obvious, but earlier in the season, Pac-12 fans treated the top teams in the conference more harshly after a loss than the nation did. After Oregon’s loss to Auburn, the Ducks fell harder in the eyes of Utah or Washington fans than in the eyes of the nation. This was also the case across the Pac-12 when Utah lost to USC and Washington lost to Cal.

Now, the sentiment has swung back the other way, and Pac-12 fans are championing the cause of the top teams in the conference. Every Pac-12 fanbase voted Utah and Oregon higher than where the teams finished in the National Poll. This might just be out of desire to get a team in the College Football Playoff, but it is interesting to see how the feelings of the fanbases within the conference have shifted in a matter of weeks.

Another interesting note as we near the release of the first College Football Playoff Poll is Ohio State remains ahead of Oklahoma right now. This mean Ohio State is going to stay ahead of Oklahoma the rest of the season unless the Buckeyes lose. In terms of quality wins, Oklahoma has the edge over Ohio State. The best team Ohio State has defeated this year was Cincinnati in nonconference play. Other than that, Ohio State beat a mediocre Michigan State team and a really bad Nebraska team. And for some reason everybody lost their minds after that Nebraska game.

Oklahoma hasn’t faced many more good teams than Ohio State, but they also have the best win at this point in the season, their win this past week against Texas on the road. That’s far more impressive than a home win against Cincinnati. Oklahoma has also destroyed Texas Tech, UCLA and Houston. None of those wins are overly impressive but they’re comparable to any other win Ohio State has.

This isn’t to say that I think Oklahoma is superior to Ohio State, but as the polls get more and more important, it shows that Oklahoma has zero shot at passing Ohio State unless the Buckeyes lose. The toughest game remaining on Oklahoma’s schedule is a road game at Baylor. Ohio State still has games against Wisconsin, Michigan and Penn State.

The odds of the Buckeyes losing a game is higher, but Ohio State still has a better chance of finishing No. 2 or No. 3 in the polls which makes a huge difference since No. 4 is likely going to be playing Alabama. Oklahoma seems destined for the No. 4 spot in the Playoff unless disaster strikes in front of the Sooners.

As for the other rankings competition, Boise State has the clear lead in which Group of 5 team makes a New Year’s Six Bowl. It seemed like UCF was destined to claim that spot and the National Championship again this year, but two loses have reduced UCF to only National Championship contender. Boise State and SMU are the two highest Group of 5 teams in the rankings and are both currently undefeated.

SMU plays in the American Athletic Conference, which is a stronger conference than the Mountain West, but Boise State has the name recognition and has spent years building a national reputation. Each team has a win against a Power 5 team, Boise State over Florida State and SMU over TCU. Both of those wins would have looked great five years ago when the games were scheduled, but now they both only qualify as nice wins.

Boise State figures to only have two tough games left on the schedule: a road game against a collapsing BYU this week and a road game against Utah State at the end of the season. SMU still has road games against Memphis, Houston and Navy. Bet on Boise State being the one to stay undefeated. If things do go wrong for both SMU and Boise State, the next team to jump into the mix would be Cincy. With wins over UCLA and UCF, the Bearcats look like a very solid Group of 5 team, but at No. 22 in the rankings, they’re going to need some help to get to the top of the Group of 5.


As always thank you for reading and participating in the FanPulse Top 25. If you want to be part of something fun on the internet, sign up HERE. You’ll get an email Sunday after week’s games and filling out the poll only takes five minutes. Make a difference in the college football world! Okay, thanks bye.