TEMPE, Ariz. A perfect season. A lopsided score. A rabid crowd.
A night Ute fans anticipated for six weeks but dreamed of since, well . . . does anyone recall the term "horseless carriage"?
The Urban Meyer era ended with a 35-7 win over Pittsburgh in Saturday night's Fiesta Bowl, ending Utah's best year ever with a not-so-subtle flourish. This year, the Utes have been as subtle as a brushfire.
The win moved them to 12-0 on the season, 22-2 in two years under Meyer. The Utes started fairly slow Saturday 14 points in the first half but finished up looking like their usual selves, which is to say unstoppable.
Maybe this would be a good time to take their $14 million paycheck and go home.
Before they really hurt someone, I mean.
"We wanted to make a statement to the nation that we can beat anyone," said wide receiver Steven Savoy. "We proved that we are for real."
For the Utes' final game, the unlucky opponent was Pittsburgh, a k a "Losing-to-Utah-is-the-Pitts." Turns out the Panthers were unprepared for what would happen: shovel passes, reverses, hook-and-ladders the whole nine yards. Actually, the whole 467 (total) yards.
"Simply put," Pitt defensive lineman Vince Crochunis said, "they are very good."
Meyer has now unofficially used everything in his playbook.
That's it, as far as we know. As he leaves for Florida, there's nothing more in the tank. Kyle Whittingham, his successor at Utah, can think up his own strange plays. But it can't be said Meyer did the Utes a disservice. He may have stayed only two years, but he brought them from oblivion to the highest level of college football. Then for good measure, he kicked the BCS in the pants.
Now it's Whittingham's team. The only trouble is, he has to be feeling like a comedian taking the stage after Seinfeld. How do you follow that?
In pounding Pitt, and assuring themselves a high final ranking, the Utes became the first team to do a lot of things. Utah is the first non-BCS team to both play in a BCS bowl and the first to win. It is the first Utah team to win 12 games in a season, the first undefeated Utah team in 74 years. Utah set several Fiesta Bowl offensive records.
The victory came after a six-week layoff in which nothing much happened for the Utes . . . other than seeing their head coach flirt with Notre Dame, then take the job at Florida, their defensive coordinator get in a bidding war involving BYU but become Utah's head coach, their offensive coordinator take the top job at Las Vegas, and their quarterback claim a slew of national awards.
Otherwise, their layoff was quiet as a country morning.
Once in Arizona, they remained fairly low key. They made some appearances, but as per Fiesta Bowl policy, weren't required to do much.
They were left to their own devices play video games, sleep, visit with friends and relatives, and, of course, plot.
And so they did.
They plotted to have their way with Pitt, which they did. They plotted to lead from kickoff to the final horn, which they also did. They plotted some trick plays. Their hook-and-ladder touchdown in the third quarter was a play they practiced on for two weeks. It never worked. Until Saturday.Comment on this story
In the end, though, they did what they set out to do: make the BCS look silly and shortsighted. They represented all the little guys of the world when they walked in and told the bigger conferences they were mad as heck and they weren't going to take it any more. They crashed the party, broke down the walls and toppled the tower.
Not only that, they made it look easy."Coach stressed that all week," Savoy said. "He wanted us to go out and handle our job. We did that. And as you can see, it was not that close."