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FanPulse Top 25 Week 4: Utah Fans are the Team’s Harshest Critics

In the national poll, the fans voted Utah at No. 14 in the nation. The BlockU Community voted Utah at No. 18. We’ve reached the point where Utah fans are more willing to write off the team than the rest of the nation.

The SB Nation FanPulse College Football Top 25 is back for another week of letting the fans decide who the best teams in the country really are. With several highly ranked teams losing this week, there was bound to be some chaos in the voting, and some of the rankings are absolutely fascinating and also confusing. We also introduced a new question to the voters this week that we will discuss in more detail.

Thank you everyone who is continuing to vote in the poll. As always, if you want to jump in for the rest of the season, CLICK HERE.

I now present Week 4 of the SB Nation FanPulse College Football Top 25:

I also give you the BlockU Community Top 25:

The Angriest Critics

When I received the data for this week, I opened it expecting to see Utah ranked somewhere between No. 19, like the AP Poll, and No. 25. I think my reaction after the USC game was similar to most Utah fans, I didn’t believe that Utah demonstrated they were anywhere near the caliber of a Top 15 team at the moment. If anything, the team belonged more on the fringes of the poll. Some Utah fans were definitely calling for Utah to be completely unranked after that disastrous loss.

It turns out, the rest of the country didn’t have the same knee-jerk reaction to Utah blowing the team’s best chance at winning a game in the Coliseum. Instead, a large portion of the voters were very forgiving of the Utes loss to USC, and the FanPulse poll had Utah only drop from No. 9 to No. 14. That’s four spots fewer than the AP Poll had the Utes drop after the loss.

The funniest part of all the data is, among all the team specific polls, Utah fans ranked the Utes lower than any other fanbase did. The BlockU poll had Utah all the way down at No. 18. No other team specific poll had Utah lower than No. 16 in the rankings, and some even had Utah as high as No. 13 despite the loss. Often, we are our own harshest critic, and that was on display in the rankings this week. Utah fans were completely unwilling to forgive the team while all the rest of the nation had a pretty lukewarm reaction to the loss by Utah.

The Utah fanbase has largely been optimistic over the last five years watching the Utes try to climb the mountain of the Pac-12. There have been disappointments along the way, but the continued progress kept the fanbase fairly patient during each successive season. It feels as if this loss to USC broke the camel’s back, and Utah fans are reacting the way one does when a loved one has hurt you too many times. They finally snap and attempt to punish the offender and teach them a lesson.

It’s hard to punish a football team we root for, so instead we show our anger and lack of hope by voting Utah much lower in the polls than the other fans in the country. It’s a completely understandable reaction after the way Utah played against USC. I’m sure a large portion of the country did not set aside the time on Friday night at 9 pm on the east coast to watch the Utes and Trojans battle it out. They don’t know how ugly the loss was for Utah or the many holes in the team that were exposed. Utah fans know though. They watched it all. And that pain and anguish was still going strong when it was time to vote for Utah in this week’s poll.

Confidence Shattered?

FanPulse has been doing a confidence poll for the last few weeks as well as collecting data for the Top 25. The question for fans is always the same, “Are you confident in the direction of the football program?” The coaching staff for the Utes had received nearly perfect marks for the first few weeks of the season. After Week 1, 97 percent of fans were confident in the program. Weeks 2 and 3 led to 100 percent of fans claiming to be confident in Utah going forward. Well, that all changed this week:

Only 56.3 percent of Ute fans still feel confident in the direction of the program after that loss to USC. That’s a 43.7 percent drop in confidence from a single game. Again, this is not all that surprising, there was plenty of doom and gloom surrounding the program after another crushing loss to USC. USC is really the only team in the Pac-12 South who figures to challenge Utah in the short term or the long term. And the Trojans showed once again that they have the upper hand.

It’s going to be really hard for the Utes to reach the high hopes surrounding the program in the future if they are never able to get past the one team they will regularly have to battle with. In a season where USC looked posed to completely collapse on itself like a dying star, the Trojans still had enough power to crush Utah’s aspirations.

If Utah can’t beat USC in Los Angeles, it’s hard to feel confident in Utah in the long term becoming more than the team that wins nine games each season. Good for most programs, but not a season the program still views as a remarkable achievement.

I think Utah would have to be perfect for the rest of the season in order for that confidence level to once again reach above 90 percent. I shudder to think what will happen if Utah loses to Washington as well. I remain cautiously confident in what the program leadership is doing, but that confidence is on shakier ground than it has been in a long time.

A Sign of Respect

There was one other question posed in this week’s survey of fans, “Which team in the Top 25 is the most overrated?” I have great news for Utah fans, the Utes received votes!

Remember, being overrated is a good thing. As Jay-Z said, “Would you rather be underrated or overpaid?”

Sure, it hurts when someone attempts to insult you by calling you overrated, but this vote is just a reminder that people expected greater things from the Utah program than ever before. Utah has finally reached the point of getting more respect than they deserve. Granted, it’s kind of hard to celebrate being overrated after a loss, but it’s interesting to see Utah entering a level of national respect never before seen for the program.

Plus, in sad times, it’s still possible to laugh at Michigan.

Other Observations

After another truly magnificent display of self-destruction this weekend, it appears the Pac-12 not making the playoff is going to remain a talking point for the rest of the season. It’s interesting to see who the voters trust and who they don’t trust.

The voters appear to be giving the benefit of the doubt to Oregon, Utah and USC. Oregon is the third-highest ranked one-loss team, and Utah is the highest ranked team that has a loss against an opponent that was unranked at the time. USC has also jumped up to No. 21 in the poll despite having to rely on a third-string quarterback and a coach who could get fired at any given moment. The hype surrounding Oregon and Utah at the beginning of the season is helping them in the FanPulse Poll, and the respect USC still receives nationally is also paying off.

The teams the voters don’t trust appear to be Washington and Cal. Washington is still all the way down at No. 20 despite only having one loss to a still undefeated Cal team. Speaking of Cal, they just barely cracked the Top 25 and sit at No. 25 nationally despite having wins against Washington and Ole Miss on their resume. Cal and Washington should both be higher than Utah and USC, but the voters haven’t bought into either of these teams being legitimate contenders.

I can’t explain why Washington State is still ranked. The only explanation I can come up with is most people went to bed while Washington State was up 32 on UCLA and then didn’t bother to check the score before voting. When you allow one of the greatest comebacks of all time against maybe the worst team in the conference on your home field, you don’t deserve to be ranked anymore. Once again, we are reminded that if you’re going to lose, do so in the far corner of the country at a time where everyone is too tired to notice or care. Kudos to Wazzu for planning that loss perfectly.

I do need some help understanding Michigan State at No. 17 and Virginia at No. 24. Those two rankings need to be flipped. Michigan State lost to Arizona State, and the Sun Devils are not good. Virginia hasn’t lost yet. Virginia needs some respect, they’re the second-best team in the ACC. It’s not saying much, but it’s something.

I think UCF’s playoff hopes might be dead, and when I say might be, I mean they are dead, cremated and the ashes have been spread all over Epcot. Boise State returns to the top of the Group of 5 rankings and is now primed to make some poor team miserable in the Cotton Bowl.

Once again, thank you to everyone who is participating with us in creating these polls. You all are giving us the opportunity to create something cool on the internet. Please make sure to keep filling out those ballots when you get the email, each one of you is needed. CLICK HERE if you want to sign up for next week!