Mike Sorensen: Too bad Cougars and Utes aren't playing each other this week
Tom Smart, Deseret News
It's been a tough year for the BYU and Utah football programs, no doubt about it. At 6-5 and 4-7, respectively, each program is performing well below expectations, despite the number of close losses they've had.
But just imagine if the two schools were still playing each other this week, on the last weekend of the football season as they did for decades. Despite the mediocre records, there would still be all kinds of excitement around the state this week just because it was BYU-Utah.
Instead, both schools are going on the road to play a pair of teams that are a combined 2-19 this year.
Whoop de do!
AGGIES RULE: BYU and Utah have been struggling on the gridiron this year, but how about those Aggies?
It's been a record-breaking year in Logan, where Utah State is on the verge of its first outright conference title since 1936 and ranked in the Top 25 for the first time since 1978. Give Gary Andersen and his coaches and players all the credit in the world for what they've done to get the program on par with the Utes and Cougars in just four years.
After their big win over Louisiana Tech, the Aggies are 9-2 and very likely to be 10-2 with 1-10 Idaho on the schedule this week and a bowl game to follow.
TV RULES: Saturday was a perfect crisp autumn afternoon just made for a college football game.
Ah, temperature in the low 50s, leaves swirling about, the sun peaking through the clouds.
But local fans had to wait until 8 p.m. to watch Utah and Arizona kick off in Rice-Eccles Stadium. Instead of enjoying the fall air in the afternoon and getting home in time for dinner and perhaps enjoying a night out on the town, fans had to sit in the cold on a rainy evening, returning home by midnight, if they were lucky.
A week earlier, BYU fans had the same issue with an 8:15 p.m. start against Idaho. Cougar fans didn't miss out on a beautiful fall afternoon because of all the snow, but snow in the afternoon is a lot more pleasant than snow on a frigid November evening.
Unfortunately, there's little that can be done about these late November night games now that college football is ruled by television.
DECEIVING NUMBERS: Saturday's announced attendance at Rice-Eccles Stadium was 45,031. Last week at LaVell Edwards Stadium the announced attendance was 61,009.
Neither figure was anywhere close to the actual number of bodies in the stands with thousands of empty seats due to lousy weather and absurdly late kickoff times. The same thing happens at Jazz games where the attendance figure is 19,000-plus even when there are scores of empty green seats at EnergySolutions Arena.
I'm fully aware that most sports teams base their attendance figures on tickets paid for (or claimed by students). But couldn't they be a little more honest and tell us how many people actually "attended" the event?
It's like a college student skipping half his classes, but claiming perfect attendance because he paid his tuition at the start of the semester.
8 VS. 9: Once again the SEC is going to benefit from its policy of only having to play eight conference football games, while most other major conferences, like the Pac-12, play nine. And once again, it's very likely the SEC will end up with a team in the national championship game, thanks to what happened over the weekend.
On Saturday, while Oregon and Kansas State were falling from the unbeaten ranks to conference foes, most SEC teams were basically getting mid-November byes with games against FCS (formerly I-AA) schools.
Let's see, Florida played Jacksonville, Texas A&M was paired with Sam Houston State, South Carolina went against Wofford and Auburn got Alabama A&M. The worst was Alabama, which played a 1-9 Western Carolina team. No surprise, the Crimson Tide won 49-0, probably using their third- and fourth-stringers.
We've said this before — the more league games a team plays, rather than getting an extra patsy on its schedule, means an extra chance to lose, which is what happened to Oregon and Kansas State last week.
BASKETBALL BLUES: Finally, if you haven't already noticed, it could be an off year for local college basketball teams.
BYU, Utah State and Weber State each look to be down from last year with early losses. And while Utah should be much improved, the Utes did lose to Sacramento State Friday night. At home, no less.
The guess from here is that none of the aforementioned schools will win conference titles this year, but BYU, USU and WSU will still get 20 wins. Utah, meanwhile, will get double-digit wins, not finish last in the Pac-12 as predicted and not lose more than one in-state game.
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