Friday, October 03, 2008

Utah 31, Oregon State 28

A Tale of Two Teams:
Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde
Chocolate and vanilla
Rich and poor
Obama and McCain

As I've stated just about every other week this year, Utah has some major issues playing consistently. This problem was magnified in Thursday night's game against Oregon State. At times, Utah looked like a team that might belong in the top 25. Other times, they probably would have been destroyed by the mighty Aggies. Their biggest problem lies in the play of their quarterback.

Last year Johnson was hurt for a lot of the season. This year, his body appears to be functioning at 100%. What doesn't appear to be completely working is his head - more specifically, his decision making process. If Utah's offensive line would let him, I think that he wouldn't mind having a little tea party in the pocket. He doesn't seem to mind doing anything but scramble or get rid of the ball anymore.

These bad tendencies only come up off and on throughout the game. There are other times where Johnson is the man of the hour, a quarterback so crisp and decisive that you can't imagine him playing any other way. He definitely is somebody to count on under pressure though.

I mentioned to a few people that I was more nervous for this game than for any other. I also predicted that if Rogers ran for more than 100 yards, Utah would lose. Rogers ran for 101 yards (A large chunk of them coming on 2 carries) and Utah needed a last second field goal to win the game. For the second game this year, Utah sold out on the run, stacked the box and made the Beavers beat them with their passing game (which was a highlight of the night for the Beavs).

Utah only had 30 yards of offense in the third quarter. When they got the ball back down 8 with just over two minutes remaining, most hope and all of the confidence had been sucked out of the stadium. Johnson and company proceeded to have arguably their best drive of the season, and one of their best defensive stops of the season (made more impressive by how exhausted they all looked). Utah tied the game up on a 2-point conversion, got the ball back and let King Louie kick the game winning field goal as time expired.

It has been a really long time since I've been to a game with so much emotion and passion from the fans. The stadium was probably about as loud as football games ever get - my ears were ringing for a couple of hours after the game. One of the ugliest games of the last few years as well as one of the most incredible comebacks in a long time.

As soon as the game ended, the students rushed the field. I've mentioned on this blog before that I am totally anti-students-rushing-the-field and I told my brother-in-law minutes after the game that "the Utah studentbody was embarrasing me." In cases of a conference championship or when you beat a team in the top 5, rushing the field may be justified, but I still think it's kind of hokey. I will give the Utah students the benefit of the doubt on this one though for a couple of reasons (I'm neither defending nor endorsing their actions. I was in the MUSS and stood firmly in my seat as other students rushed by):

1. While not the equivalent of making it into a BCS bowl, it's late enough in the season to know that if Utah goes undefeated, they will be in a BCS bowl game. Therefore, this win was almost like that.
2. It was pretty much only the students rushing the field, showing their school spirit. When the University of Utah class of 1998 joins in the rush, it better be a big deal.
3. The emotion in the stadium was incredible (and pretty much a had-to-be-there moment, in order to understand). Once Louie's kick went in, everybody just wanted to celebrate, hug, mosh and go crazy. Where's the best place to do that? The field of course.
4. Oregon State beat the number 1 team, USC, one week ago. Utah had 5 days to prepare and still beat Oregon State. Doesn't that mean the Utes should be ranked #1?
5. Almost everybody in the Muss was so stinking drunk that they didn't even know Utah had won. They all thought they were running from a fire.

(Point of clarification: I did join in with the Utes in rushing the field after beating BYU in 2004. This was the year Utah went to the Fiesta Bowl (an official of which was at the game Thursday night). I also went onto the field after Utah beat Georgia Tech in the 2005 Emerald Bowl in San Francisco. I had to know whether or not the field was spongy.)


JTENMAN said...

What happened to the Mormons and Christians reference? All the same, I am completely against the rushing the field that occurred after the game. At this point though, the only thing that really matters is that the Utes pulled this game out. On to Wyoming who probably has our number because of the crap Whittingham pulled last year (justified though because of the other coaches comments).

Tim said...

It will be a fun BYU, Utah game this year.

T.Irwin said...

Eric is a BYU fan but he watched this game with ferver. I was playing my video computer games in the next room and his whooping and screaming scared not only our dogs, who came running in to the room I was in with terror in their eyes from the shock of being woken up every few minutes by his yelling, but I, too, was jumping with each holler.
I didn't see that the students had rushed the field, but I tend to side with you on this one.
I'm hoping the Y and U remain undefeated for when they face eachother this year.

Sam said...

Because of the fact that we do not have versus, I was not able to watch last night. So, it is good to see that I was getting the correct read on Johnson and the game. His inability to keep his head in the game for 4 quarters scares me for the byu game. Can he learn to do that over the next few weeks? I sure hope so.

sdande said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
sdande said...

It was a fun game to watch! I was with 5 other med students from Utah, 4 of which are pro BYU, that were all on the edge of the seats hoping the Utes would pull it out. I was also embarrassed after the fans of the #15 ranked team in nation rushed the field after beating a team that was only at .500. It didn't send the right message about the strength of the MWC. The Utes were SUPPOSED to win that game!

Ben said...

Ty, a bonus to my job here in Ohio is I get to hob-knob with influential people in the communities. This morning's winner was Kirk Herbstreit, Mr. College Gameday himself. Three things I learned from him today as he answered my questions over breakfast: 1) The Utes will still win the conference. He is annoyed with how high BYU is ranked since they haven't played any good teams. 2) If both teams remain undefeated until Nov 22, he says there probably wouldn't be anything standing in the way of College Gameday coming back to SLC. He loves the fan support in Utah, and loves the area. 3) If they come to SLC, I told him I'd take him, Chris Fowler and Lee Corso, to dinner with my good friends. (i'd need to take him somewhere spendy, so i'd need people to split the check with...) Hopefully this will ALL happen...!!! SO, there ya have it. BYU still sucks, according to Herbie.

JTENMAN said...

Who is Ben? Do you know how freaking awesome that would be Tyler? Holy crap I would freak out. I love College Gameday. Go Utes! And keep it up Herbie!

tysqui said...

Ben - that is awesome that you got to talk to Herbstreit, and thanks for sharing. I posted your quote on the front page of my blog - I hope you don't mind because I wanted more people to see it.

When college GameDay came to Salt Lake City in '04, I was there (and it was awesome). Bishop Moffat got to sit next to Chris Fowler for the second-half of the football game and I was immensely jealous of him as I am of you.

What can I say? I'm a College GameDay junkie.