It’s not a sign of weakness to say Utah is a good football team. It’s not a bad thing to suggest the Utes are deserving of a playoff spot or that Utah is every bit as good as the Sooners.
Sure, it’s not a popular opinion around here, but it’s not wrong. It doesn’t make Oklahoma less of a team to say so.
A Utah win tonight in the Pac-12 title game and it has an extremely strong case to be a playoff team.
None of that means Oklahoma has had a bad season or is in some way deficient. After all, one could make the case the Sooners are more equipped to make a run in the playoffs this year than they have been in the previous seasons. What we need to consider, no, not consider, but we need to agree on and actually just admit, is no team in the BCS/College Football Playoff era, has been treated better than the Sooners have.
Obviously, making the Playoff isn’t about some Lifetime Achievement Award, and that every year should stand alone. I get that. You’d be right to say it, but OU has fared well, and this isn’t an undefeated Sooner team we’re talking about. It’s a one-loss team that is just as shaky and strong as Utah is.
Let’s face it, OU is probably going to get in if everything falls into place, which means an LSU win over Georgia in the Saturday SEC title game. The committee has already planted that seed, moving Baylor to No. 7, which would give the Sooners a strength-of-schedule bump. Meanwhile, Utah is playing No. 13 Oregon, which is clearly not as strong as playing Baylor, so the chances of OU missing out is much more slim than Utah’s.
But, but, but, if Utah gets in, looks better on Friday night than OU does on Saturday afternoon, you might have an argument, but you don’t have a gripe. There should be no cause to take up pitchforks and torches and shout from the streets about how OU has been done wrong.
Utah is on an eight-game winning streak, its longest since 2008. Quarterback Tyler Huntley is completing 76 percent of his passes, best in the nation behind only LSU’s Joe Burrow. On defense, Utah is just one of four teams to hold 11 opponents to 100 rushing yards or fewer. It has a great defense, allowing only 11 points per game. Don’t tell me this isn’t every bit as good as Oklahoma.
Sure, the Utes lost to a third-string quarterback in Los Angeles against Southern Cal, but Southern Cal, while not a great team in any way, is as good as Kansas State – the only team to beat Oklahoma – is. K-State lost to West Virginia and Texas, Oklahoma State and wasn’t competitive against Baylor. USC’s losses were to Notre Dame, Oregon and Washington. Its lone loss to an unranked team was to BYU.
Maybe the Pac-12 isn’t as good as the Big 12. OK. Fair point. No one would argue that with 100 percent certainty. But take a breath. It’s time to declare if OU and Utah win and then LSU follows up with an SEC victory that no one will suggest the committee is “out to get OU,” or that the system is “biased” or “rigged.”
The point is, Oklahoma and Utah aren’t separated by that all that much and since there’s no exact formula or criteria to determine who’s in and who isn’t, this year isn’t the year to cry foul.