1. Utah … national champion?! Why not?
I still don’t believe this is the best team in America, but without a playoff, it’s all about the résumé.
This wasn’t a fluky win and this wasn’t a case of Alabama coming out flat. Utah straight-up whipped the Tide on both sides of the ball, and remember, this was against a team that was No. 1 for most of the year and was a quarter away from playing for the national title. This was a great, great ‘Bama team, and Utah beat it like a drum.
This isn’t 1984 BYU; that Cougars team didn’t beat anyone as good as the 2008 Oregon State team, much less a TCU or an Alabama. This isn’t 2004 Utah or 1999 Marshall or 1998 Tulane. So where, really, should Utah be put in the final rankings? If you’re going to say No. 1, no matter what happens in the BCS championship game, it’s hard to argue. Utah has to be ranked ahead of USC (on the deserve factor, although I still think USC wins easily on a neutral field) and I still want to see the Fiesta Bowl and the national championship. But even if Texas does what everyone thinks it’s going to do and beats Ohio State, then Utah can’t be any lower than third behind the Florida-Oklahoma winner and Texas. However, if Florida wins, then you could argue that Utah’s win over ‘Bama was more impressive than Florida’s win in the SEC title game (even though Andre Smith was missing from the Sugar Bowl), and that the Utes deserve to be first over the Gators. If OU wins, then maybe No. 3 … at worst. At the very least, the Mountain West needs to be given more benefit of the doubt from here on. — Pete Fiutak