View from the Booth: Utes must shake off TCU beatdown and regroup against the Irish
Tom Pennington, File, Associated Press
Boy, that escalated quickly. I mean, that really got out of hand fast!" —Ron Burgandy, anchorman
I think that quote from my broadcasting idol accurately sums up what happened at Rice-Eccles Stadium on Saturday afternoon.
I have to be brutally honest, I didn't see 47-7 coming or even in the cards. I thought the game was fairly evenly matched and looked to be close, but TCU set the tone early and Utah couldn't match the pace on either side of the line of scrimmage.
Hats off to the Horned Frogs and their head coach Gary Patterson, who has put together one of the, if not the, finest teams in all of college football.
Here's hoping TCU gets a shot to do what Utah hasn't gotten in their last two trips to the BCS — to play for a BCS national championship.
I haven't seen Oregon or Auburn in person this season, but I have a hard time believing that they are better than the team I saw take Utah apart on Saturday afternoon.
Now what about the Utes?
The question I've been asked more than any other over the last couple of days is, what happened to Utah?
The answer is pretty simple — the Utes ran into a team that is superior to them. There's no shame in losing to TCU. I think it's the manner in which they lost that has most Ute fans perplexed.
At 8-1, the Utes are still enjoying a fantastic season. It's just that the expectations have changed from the beginning of the year and the team, fans and media began thinking BCS berth.
Saturday's game showed the difference between a really good team and a great team. I thought before the season that Utah would challenge for the MWC title, but was probably a year away from challenging for a BCS bowl berth. It looks like the Utes are right on pace, with most of the key components of this team coming back next season.
This weekend, it's off to Notre Dame, a game and an opponent that looks much better on the schedule than they do on the field. At 4-5 on the season, the Irish aren't all that good right now under first-year head coach Brian Kelly.
This is a game that Utah should win, if there isn't a hangover from the beatdown given to them by the Horned Frogs last weekend.
This trip is more than just a football game, though, for those that will make the journey to South Bend. If you are a college football fan, a trip to Notre Dame is a must at least once in your lifetime.
The place is the absolute essence of the college football experience. From the College Football Hall of Fame to Touchdown Jesus, the campus oozes history and lore.
I've been fortunate enough to attend two games at Notre Dame Stadium: Michigan in 1998 and BYU in 2003.
I've also been fortunate enough in my career to work and attend games all over the country, and I can tell you without a doubt that the best gameday experience anywhere is in South Bend, Ind. So my advice to Ute fans traveling to this weekend's game is to get there early and wake up as many of those Irish Echoes as you can, because you never know if that opportunity will arise again.
I can't wait to call it from the booth in front of 80,000-plus on Saturday. I'll be talking to you from the shadow of Touchdown Jesus and No. 1 Moses.
Bill Riley can be heard as the radio voice of the University of Utah on game days and also on weekdays from 2-6 p.m. on the "Bill and Spence Show" on ESPN Radio 700 AM.
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