Utah Makes A Point
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The Utes from Utah can play football. Period. My way of thinking concerning post-season college football has changed following this game, and that way of thinking is probably way past due. Along with Boise State, Appalachain State, and several other lesser known named schools in recent seasons, Utah proved once more that the perennial powerhouses of our sport are going to have to respect that some new kids are on the block. This game was not so much about Alabama, the Tide had a great year regardless at 12-2. This game was about Utah showing they were no joke.
After going up 21-0 early on the University of Alabama in the Sugar Bowl Friday Night, Utah held its own over the remaining three quarters for a convincing 31-17 win over a Tide team that was number 1 for many weeks of this very season. The Utes didn't get lucky in this one - they flat-out dominated the game. The fast start was expected, but the way they held the Tide back over the remaining three quarters is what proves to me that these guys belong in the big-time.
QB Brian Johnson (27 of 41 for 336 yards and 3 scores) came out and had his team firing on all cylinders. On Utah's first drive (which lasted a mere 1:38 seconds), Johnson hit five straight passes to five different receivers en route to a quick 7-0 lead. UA's John Parker Wilson was intercepted minutes later, and it was 14-0 Utah before Alabama remembered they were in a game. Soon after, Utah tacked on one more for a 21-0 lead.
Alabama added a 52-yard field goal by Leigh Tiffin and a 72-yard punt return by Javier Arenas just before the half to cut the lead to 21-10 at the break. It seemed as if Alabama was settling in, and many felt Tide Coach Nick Saban and staff would shut-down Utah in the second half. On Utah's final first half possessions, it seemed as if the Tide had figured out the Ute offensive attack.
But Utah came out and won the second half 10-7, and thus won the game 31-17. After Alabama had cut the lead to 21-17 in the early third quarter, many had to feel that utah would fold and their miracle season would end. Nope, this is where they proved that they belonged in the BCS mix. They shut down Alabama from there on, tacking on two more scores of their own.
As confetti fell from the Super Dome sky just as it has in so many championship-level events held under its roof, fans nationwide had to take a deep breath and realize that the ignoring of these undefeated mid-major teams has to stop. This game was a showcase game for many teams like Utah, and this game, along with the Boise State win over Oklahoma in the 2006 Fiesta Bowl, will be the ones remembered when the post-season rules are re-written.
Utah beat one of college football's most storied and highly respected teams in a no-doubt-about-it kind of way and if you fail to see the symbolsim of where this game took place then that is your fault. The Superdome is perhaps the most historically drenched stadium in American sports. It has been home to countless Super Bowls, Final Fours and college football Sugar Bowls and Title Games. It has withstood the test of time and weather, and has served multiple uses for the good of the city of New Orleans since it was built in 1975. What better place, and in what better year, for Utah to show the college football world that it is time for some change!
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