SALT LAKE CITY — BYU and Utah’s college football programs have been criminally underrated.
That was the premise, at least, of a piece written by Christopher Walsh, of College Sports Maven.
In the third story of a series designed to gauge “the most overrated and underrated programs in college football,” Walsh took a look at the 10 most underrated football programs in the nation, using both the preseason and postseason AP polls from every season — starting in 1936 — to determine the winner, or perhaps loser depending on perspective.
“The following list,” Walsh wrote, “was painstakingly compiled by using each year’s preseason and postseason Associated Press Poll. The difference from where a team was initially projected to where it finished was measured in points, so if a team was preseason No. 1 and postseason No. 3 it scored minus-2. The scores for every team, every year were then added up, resulting in this top-10 list.”
Both the Cougars and Utes made the top 10.
BYU came in at No. 7, with Walsh noting “the Cougars had never been ranked before LaVell Edwards took over in 1972. The first six times it finished in the AP Poll, including 1984 when Brigham Young won the national championship, it began the season unranked.”
Utah, meanwhile, was the third most underrated program in America, behind only Boston College and Missouri.
“The Utes have been playing football since 1905, but only twice have they been in the preseason AP Poll, No. 20 in 2004 (when they finished No. 4) and No. 19 in 2009,” wrote Walsh. “Even in 2008, when Kyle Whittingham’s team finished No. 2, Utah was overlooked in the preseason rankings.”
Other underrated teams included, among others, No. 10 Baylor, No. 8 TCU, No. 5 Oregon and No. 4 Boise State.
A piece away
How close are the Utes to making the College Football Playoff?
According to Bleacher Report’s Ian Wharton, they are about as close as you can get.
That was the argument, at least, in his article 10 College Football Teams That Are One Piece Away from Making the CFB Playoff.
In it, Wharton looked at 10 teams from four of the five Power 5 conferences — apparently outside of Clemson the ACC has little hope in Wharton’s eyes — that are capable of making a playoff run.
Utah was one of two Pac-12 teams named by Wharton, Washington State being the other.
The Utes most glaring problem? The hole left at linebacker by the departures of Chase Hansen and Cody Barton.
“The Utah Utes are a prominent sleeper in the College Football Playoff race,” Wharton wrote. “The biggest missing piece is a player who can reliably force turnovers. The Utes lost linebackers Chase Hansen and Cody Barton, who combined for 231 tackles, 33.5 tackles for loss and nine sacks. The linebacker situation could cost them a playoff spot. Assumed starters Francis Bernard and Donavan Thompson had just 68 combined tackles in 2018. If they don't offer the same backfield playmaking and coverage range as their predecessors, the Utes will sink.”
Peak Perspective: 2019 MWC Recruiting Comparisons (Mountain West Connection)
2019 Spring Ball Battles: Inside Linebacker (247Sports)
And finally …
Following the much publicized verbal altercation between Oklahoma City star Russell Westbrook and Utah county resident Shane Keisel, a few Jazz fans hope to change the narrative surrounding the fan base.70 comments on this story
The chosen vehicle for that change? A GoFundMe campaign intended to raise $25,000 dollars — the same amount Westbrook was fined by the NBA for his expletive-filled role in the confrontation — to be donated to the Human Right Campaign Foundation.
Per the campaign’s organizer, Devin Deaton of Sandy, Utah, “it is time to change the narrative on citizens of Utah, fans of the Jazz and those that call Utah 'home'. We are not a bunch of redneck, racist, bigots. Most of us are dads, moms, friends, hard-workers, kind-hearted, do right by each other, help our fellow man, good neighbors and welcoming to all.”
As of late Wednesday night, the campaign had received donations from 476 people, enough to raise $10,255 in a single day.