At least Michigan and BYU lost. Doesn't that make you feel better? It sure helps me. The Utes took part in another ugly contest being flogged by the Falcons 20-12 at home. Air Force exploited all of Utah's weaknesses that appeared last week in the game against Oregon State. Utah, on the other hand, was lucky to only be down by 8 at the end of the game. As this was the first home game, it was the first time that I was able to sit in the MUSS this year. Our seats are about on the goal line and 21 rows up - which is 6 rows closer than last year. It would be nice to be further up the field. I like the height though.
Enough about the game (it was just too ugly discuss), the pre-game meal was fantastic. We were served huge cheeseburgers from Red Robin. The tail-gate food alone justifies the cost of joining the MUSS each year.
This was another bad week for Utah on the injury front. Their only Heisman Candidate and best remaining playmaker, Brent Casteel went down with a knee injury. He was taken down by a dirty chop-block tackle that is virtually a guaranteed knee injury (It's illegal unless you are making the hit on the guy with the ball). Tommy Grady struggled again as quarterback. He had great protection from the offensive line (I think they added another blocker or two for most plays) but he was still unable to complete many throws. Last week I blamed his problems on the offensive line, this week they are his alone.
Utah's running-game was anemic as was their running defense - although the defense looked pretty darn good in the first half (playing to a 3-3 tie). In the second half, Air Force played with a lot more emotion and every big play that Utah's defense made, the offense made sure to screw it up. If I had written this review on Saturday I would surely have included a link to www.firekylewhittingham.com. Luckily, after a couple of days, my anger has cooled somewhat. As it stands, I will only tell you that it exists,... barely.
You can always complain about the officiating but I think that they actually weren't too bad. They ended up reviewing 5 or 6 calls in the booth and none of them went the Utes way. It's hard to argue with their calls when they are using video review (unless they are PAC-10 officials, see Oregon vs. Oklahoma 2006).
Although Air Force didn't play incredibly well, I was impressed with them. Their offense seemed to mesh well and they were able to make the plays that they needed to. I predict that they will finish at or above .500 in the conference and play in a bowl game. Those are pretty lofty predictions for the AFA.
Utah has their work cut out for them this week. They host UCLA at Rice-Eccles Stadium for the 2nd annual Bruin-Ute showdown. Unless Utah has an Appalachain State moment in the works, they will struggle mightily against the Bruins. I only hope that they are able to score. A good day will be if they even get into the end zone. Hopefully by lowering my expectations as far as I possibly can I am not setting myself up for disappointment. Only time will tell.