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Mike Sorensen: Numbers say Utah Utes have BCS potential

Published: Sunday, Oct. 10 2010 11:42 p.m. MDT

So just how good is this Utah football team, which laid the most points ever on Iowa State at home, while rolling up more than 1,000 yards total, including kick and interception returns?

We still may not know, but it's beginning to look like these Utes are pretty darn good. Scoring 68 points on the road against any Big 12 team is pretty impressive.

Could these Utes be better than the 2004 and 2008 teams, which both went undefeated and went to BCS bowl games?

Could be.

The Utes seem to have a comparable offense to the '04 team, which averaged 45.3 points per game, and a defense that matches the '08 team. This year's team is averaging 49 points per game, third best in the nation, while the defense is ranked in the top 20 in numerous categories and is ranked No. 10 in total defense.

Of course, there are a lot of doubters who say the Utes still haven't beaten anyone this year, despite crushing all but one opponent. Iowa State isn't Nebraska or Oklahoma, but it does play in the Big 12, and a week earlier, it scored 52 on Texas Tech, which beat Baylor, which beat Kansas 55-7. So it's not like the Cyclones are the worst team in the Big 12, by any means.

One poster on the ISU message board had this to say about Utah after Saturday's pasting:

"This was 100 percent about Utah being unbelievable. Ohio State, Alabama, OU, etc., would not hang 68 on us in our own stadium. If this Utah team wins out and doesn't get a chance to play for a BCS title, it's an absolute travesty."

However, looking at how the polls reacted after Utah's victory, the Utes have little chance of playing for a BCS title, even if it wins the rest of its games.

The Utes actually dropped a spot in the AP poll to 11th after its 68-point explosion, while staying the same at 10 in the coaches poll. Two SEC teams, LSU and South Carolina, leapfrogged them in the AP poll after wins over Alabama and Florida, respectively.

While the Utes aren't likely to have a chance at a national title game, if they win the rest of their games, they should still end up in their third BCS bowl game.

PLAY LOCALS: It's understandable that the Utes added an FCS school in Montana State to open next season. With nine Pac-12 games and Pitt and BYU on the road, the Utes need at least one breather next year.

However, if the Utes must play a lower-division school every year, it would be nice if they could work out a way to play Weber State or Southern Utah, which have mostly local players and would make for a more interesting matchup.

NO CARD NEEDED: Did you see the dispute between the Minnesota and Wisconsin football coaches after Saturday's game?

Minnesota coach Tim Brewster was upset that Wisconsin coach Bret Bielema went for two points on a PAT while up 41-16 with six minutes to go in the game.

Afterward, the Wisconsin coach justified it by saying that's what it said on "the card" that most coaches carry with them to figure out when to go for one or two points.

Usually, I'd tell the Minnesota coach to shut up and try to keep your opponent out of the end zone. However, in this case, I'd tell the Wisconsin coach you don't need a silly card to tell you that you shouldn't go for two while leading by 25 points in the fourth quarter.

DISTRESSING: Twice last week, Jazz players missed practice because of the same reason. It was reported that both Deron Williams and Al Jefferson missed practice due to "gastric distress," which makes you wonder if there's something in the water at the Jazz practice facility. Either that, or it's a just an excuse for the players not wanting to practice during the preseason.

I would be a bit skeptical of the latter, since I was recently up all night last week with a bout of "gastric distress." I know I wouldn't have wanted to be playing basketball at the time.

STOP THE CHEW: The story of Tony Gwynn's admission of cancer and its probable cause should be posted in every major and minor league locker room.

Gwynn, one of the greatest hitters of all time in major league baseball, has parotid cancer of the salivary gland, which he attributes to chewing tobacco during his baseball career.

While there are apparently no studies that show a link between chewing tobacco and parotid cancer, according to the American Cancer Society, tobacco use can lead to malignant tumors in the head and neck.

Good luck to Tony, who has always been one of the good guys in baseball.

e-mail: sor@desnews.com

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