LARAMIE, Wyo. — They lost to Texas when it was ranked No. 4 in the country, to Boise State when it was No. 3, to TCU when it was No. 5 and Air Force just before it cracked the national rankings at No. 23.
So the question to the Wyoming Cowboys after Saturday's 30-6 loss to 10th-ranked University of Utah was obvious:
Well, other than "Who's your scheduler? Dr. Death?"
How'd the Utes stack up?
Better? Worse? Just as good? Not worthy to be included in the gantlet?
Two Cowboy players lingered long enough among the rubble to assess the Utes as the House of Usher portion of their 2010 schedule mercifully slammed shut Saturday night.
One was starting quarterback Austyn Carta-Samuels, a sophomore from San Jose, Calif., who managed 8-of-12 passing for 84 yards and 27 yards rushing in nine carries against a belligerent Ute defense that limited the Cowboys to just 183 yards total offense.
Carta-Samuels diplomatically declined ranking the ranked — even though he'll never have to see any of them again in this lifetime — but said Utah "definitely could play with any of them because they're so well-coached and so disciplined.
"I know a lot about Kyle Whittingham," he said of the Ute head coach, "and I know a lot of guys on that team. I know how much they respect him and believe in him and what he's trying to do. And it shows in how they play. They're just so disciplined. I mean, when you see a flea-flicker on third and two, that's play-calling, that's coaching."
He was referring to Utah's first touchdown just three minutes and 10 seconds into the game: a 45-yard pass from Jordan Wynn to Luke Matthews that caught the Wyoming secondary flat-footed.
"You know Utah's always going to bring speed and they did," he said. "They could hold their own against anybody."
The Wyoming defender who had the most success against Utah was free safety Chris Prosinski, a senior from Buffalo, Wyo., who led all defenders with 12 tackles, nine of them solo. He was also credited with a pass breakup and with a block in the first half when he ended Ute kicker Joe Phillips' consecutive streak of successful PAT kicks at 54.
Prosinski ranked the Utes "right there at the top with TCU and Boise State," inferring that they might be better than Texas (a team that could climb back in the rankings after Saturday's 20-13 win over No. 5 Nebraska) and Air Force.
"They're a good physical team and really disciplined. If you have one mishap they seem to always make you pay," he said of the Utes. "I was really impressed with Boise and TCU took it to us from the start, but I'd put them with those two. Just the way they execute, their running schemes, they're really solid."
The safety said the Cowboys had two advantages in their fifth game this season against a pedigreed team: one, it helped playing the Utes at home at War Memorial Stadium and two, it helped "warming up" against all those other great teams.
"We had some experience coming into this one and there was no intimidation," he said. "But we still lost."
The game's final statistics put Utah on a par with Texas, Boise State, TCU and Air Force.
Against those four teams Wyoming lost by an average score of 38-7 compared to 30-6 against the Utes.
In total offense, Wyoming's average deficit against the Other Four was 515-206; against Utah it was 431-183.
Passing yardage was 236-134 compared to 243-116; rushing yardage was 280-82 compared to 188-67; and first downs was 26-10 compared to 22-10.
In the end, as far as Wyoming was concerned, it added up to just another average trouncing by an average ranked, elite team.