I usually wait a few days after Utah loses before posting about the game. This allows me to clear my head and get rid of my anger before spouting off and embarrassing myself. This time, I'm going to allow my anger to flow freely...
Neither team played spectacularly. Utah was down 3-0 going into halftime. Utah had major problems stopping Harvey Unga. They always seems to struggle with backs like him. He also dropped a couple balls in the second half that should have been easy catches. In short, Utah was extremely lucky to not be down by 3 touchdowns early in the game. Brian Johnson struggled against the other teams defense. He had a hard time reading the defense and making plays. When he finally began making plays with his legs, the Utes were able to convert on a few key third downs.
The worst part about games like this (including last years game in this generalization) is that you (i.e. Ute fans) think that they've got the game in the bag. This incredible thrill followed a couple minutes later by the realization that your defense choked and the game is actually lost has got to be dangerous on your heart.
Much of the talk after the game centered on two late calls made against the Utes by the officials. While these hurt, the game-winning play was converting on 4th and 18 inside your own 15-yard line on a 49 yard pass play. Why Utah's defense let Austin Collie past them at such a crucial time will never be answered. That should simply never happen.
I will not blame the officials for this loss (I blame the aforementioned play) but I think that "questionable", "iffy" or "game-changing" calls should be made with great care at the end of the game. I thought the officiating wasn't too bad until the last minute. Here's a closer look at the calls in question (you've got to look closely to see my written commentary):
I don't think that Utah would have won even if the officials hadn't made the calls shown above (or lack thereof). However, how can the Utes ever win when the officials are even allowing the other team to run the infamous, yet exclusive, 3-point conversion play?
The Utes were dominated in this game and certainly didn't deserve the win. The fact that they were as close as they were speaks volumes. As Austin Collie said after the game, when you're doing what's right, "The Lord steps in and makes good things happen". I'm not sure how I feel about the Lord meddling in football games, but I'll leave that for another post.
Poinsettia Bowl here we come!