LARAMIE, Wyo. — At this point, it's safe to say the Utes are far better than average and more than respectable, no matter who's keeping count. You can talk about their soft schedule, but it's not their fault they're making decent teams look foolish.
OK, yes it is.
They haven't played the country's best schedule; experts say it's middle-of-the pack or below. But as the saying goes, the proof is in the pudding. And as they say on the highlight shows, Let's go to the video, Hank.
They're halfway through the season and still nobody has tarnished the shine. They're 6-0 and bowl-worthy, following their 30-6 win over Wyoming. Thus on Saturday, their first possession was a touchdown. Second possession, same thing — except for the interception in the end zone, which slowed them the way France slowed the Nazis.
This team doesn't get rattled, it gets busy. In the previous three weeks they scored 56 points twice and 68 once. This time it was only 30. Couldn't they have scored higher? Does it matter?
"Doesn't matter. If it did, we would've tried to score on the last drive," said coach Kyle Whittingham. "So you've just got to run the ball and get out of here and do what's right for our team and for the big picture."
The big picture is that the Utes couldn't do a lot more, except mail flowers to the poll voters. They've won at home (Pitt, UNLV, San Jose State) and on the road (New Mexico, Iowa State, Wyoming.) They've defeated BCS-conference teams (Pitt, Iowa State) and bottom-feeders (New Mexico, UNLV, San Jose State).
It's true the games against Air Force and TCU will tell more about the Utes than anything so far, but it's not like 6-0 fails to make a statement.
"I don't care who we've played," said center Zane Taylor. "I think we have a really good record and lot of good stats we've put up, so regardless of who we've played, our stats say something. We'll just keep playing the way we have. The last six games, right now we're perfect."
The Utes put a wrap on their 106-year series with Wyoming the way they've been wrapping up about everything else — with an exclamation point. It was hard to tell whether it was a football game or an auto-pedestrian mishap.
When you jump out to a 30-0 lead, there's not much to wonder about.
The last game between Utah and its third-oldest rival (behind just USU and BYU) ended a series that began in 1904 and included 82 games. Spend that much time with someone and you get to know them all too well.
Over the years, the series delivered quite a few memorable moments. For instance, the year a Ute assistant coach's mother was punched by a Cowboy fan. And the time Whittingham ordered his team to try an onside kick with the Utes up 43-0. That brought an ensuing response from Wyoming coach Joe Glenn, in the form of a vulgar gesture.
There was the "Ice Bowl" of 2000 that featured sub-zero temperatures and a concrete-hard field. And the year the lights went out (2004) before kickoff, delaying the game for 90 minutes.
One year it was 70 degrees when the team landed in Denver, but snowing madly by the time the team got to Laramie.
Last time the Utes were on the High Plains, a howling wind swept in during the contest, later turning into an all-night blizzard.
"I think I'm a little glad," said Taylor, when asked if he had any farewell words for Wyoming. "We were lucky this time around, good weather, but it's always tough playing Wyoming because they're a bunch of tough dudes. I'm the most tired I've been after any game so far. The elevation might have been a small factor. So I don't think I'll be missing Wyoming too much."
So it's adios to Cowboy Joe and Cheyenne (and Laramie) autumns, some of them sunny and clear, others paralyzingly cold. Wyoming officials say they'd like to schedule future home-and-home series between the teams, but don't bank on it.
Realistically, the next time they meet will be in some future Las Vegas Bowl, pitting the fifth-best Pac-12 team vs. the Mountain West winner.
Do the Utes deserve their No. 10 national ranking?
"I sure think so," said Wyoming coach Dave Christensen. "It's an exceptional team. Not a lot of weaknesses."
It's hard to look weak when your record is perfect.