If you root for Utah or BYU, this weekend couldn’t have gone much worse.
Utah came home after a narrow loss to USC, hoping to get back on track against what appeared to be a beatable Arizona State squad. Instead, the Utes put forth one of their worst efforts in recent memory, absorbing a shocking 30-10 loss that sent much of the sellout crowd at Rice-Eccles Stadium to the exits by the midway point of the third quarter.
The train wreck that is Brigham Young University’s football team took it one step further, suffering its seventh consecutive loss. This one was particularly painful, as it came at the hands of an East Carolina squad that also had just one win to its name coming in. (On a positive note for Tooele County fans, Stansbury graduate Zayne Anderson did pick up the first forced fumble of his collegiate career.)
Both losses left fans scratching their heads as to how things could have gone so wrong. How does a Utah team with one of the most dominant defensive lines in the country get gashed for 200 rushing yards by Arizona State? Sure, the Sun Devils just beat Washington, and had a little bit of swagger coming into Salt Lake City on Saturday. But there just isn’t any way that the Utes should have allowed that many yards. And the offense? Brutal. Tyler Huntley, in his first game back from a shoulder injury he suffered against Arizona, threw four interceptions, including a game-sealing pick-six.
And how, exactly, is BYU this bad? Seven straight losses? I’m sure anyone who bleeds Utah crimson is thoroughly enjoying the Cougars’ woeful season, but it has reached the point where you almost have to feel sorry for them, no matter who you cheer for. On paper, the Cougars have enough talent to at least hang with anybody not named Wisconsin. Instead, they’re getting blown out by one-win mid-majors — not an encouraging sign when they’re set to play one-win San José State this coming weekend.
Utah coach Kyle Whittingham and BYU coach Kalani Sitake shouldn’t have to worry about their job status just yet. Perhaps some of their assistants might, though, namely BYU offensive coordinator Ty Detmer. BYU already is destined to miss out on postseason play, and if the Utes can’t figure out a way to grab a couple more wins against a brutal remaining schedule, they’ll also be sitting at home when bowl season rolls around. Could Utah college football fans be limited to watching Utah State in the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl yet again, along with Weber State and Southern Utah in the Football Championship Subdivision playoffs? If the Utes don’t pick up their play — and soon — that could be reality.
Bad football has never been acceptable in Provo, and, in recent years, it has become unacceptable in Salt Lake City as well. I’m sure fans in both places aren’t going to put up with this recent trend for long.
Darren Vaughan is a veteran sports writer from Moab, Utah. He’ll continue to watch even if the Utes and Cougars continue to be bad. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.