Bleeding Red: Unfortunately, U fills Pac-12 role as lovable loser

The story is now all too familiar
I’ve seen it play out countless times before
At the end the Utes can’t quite deliver
And end up on the wrong end of the score

COMMENTARY — As much as it pains me to say it, the Utah Utes are the George Costanza of the Pac-12. You know George, the lovable loser from Seinfeld.

George was not a loser at first — he was a semi-successful real estate agent. At times he showed sparks of promise by getting a job with the New York Yankees, co-writing a pilot for NBC with Jerry Seinfeld, somehow managing to date girls that were way out of his league (including a really hot model), etc. Nevertheless, George somehow managed to muck up anything good in his life, and overall turned into the lovable loser of the show.

Utah saw considerable success before joining the Pac-12, including playing the role of the original BCS Busters, and having not one, but two undefeated seasons, capped by BCS Bowl wins (including a Sugar Bowl win over Alabama). At times in the Pac-12, the Utes have shown sparks of promise, including a signature win over Stanford just a few weeks ago. Nevertheless, Utah always seems to find a way to lose, and since joining the Pac-12, has a subpar 8-16 record against Pac-12 teams.

George was on the verge of inheriting millions until his fiancé passed away after licking wedding invitation envelopes containing toxic glue. It turned out George would never come close to seeing that kind of money the rest of his life.

In the Utes’ first season in the Pac-12, they had a chance to play in the inaugural Pac-12 Football Championship Game — all they had to do was beat Colorado at home in the season finale. Instead, the Utes lost 17-14 to a Buffaloes team that only won four games that year. It looks like it will be quite some time before Utah comes that close to the Pac-12 title game again.

I think I have made my point. Please don’t get me wrong, I take no joy in Utah’s woes and overall misfortune. In fact, it actually drives me crazy because I have much loftier hopes and expectations for my beloved Utes. However, the facts are the facts.

Last week’s game against Arizona State was somewhat of a microcosm of the season thus far. Utah was the undeniable underdog going into the game, played well at times, but ultimately succumbed at the end of the game.

Consistent with four of the six Pac-12 games played by the Utes this season, Utah’s defense gave up a touchdown on the opening drive. However, the defense then shut down Arizona State’s explosive offensive for three quarters of the game. Ultimately the defense was worn out by the end of the game after receiving far too little help from the offense.

Utah’s offense showed promise early in the game, but it turned out to be nothing more than fool’s gold. While steadily declining over the course of the game, the Utes’ offense was completely ineffective in the fourth quarter. It was only fitting that Utah’s last two offensive drives — either one of which could have easily resulted in a field goal and a win — both ended with interceptions.

The statistic which is the most baffling to me is points scored per quarter and total points scored, which breaks down as follows after the game against the Sun Devils:

Team ……1st ……2nd ……3rd ……4th ……OT ……Total
Utah  ………… 75 …… 68 …… 65 …… 57 …… 3 …… 268
Opponents …… 55 …… 60 …… 39 …… 66 …… 7 …… 226

Riddle me this: How does a team outscore its opponent in three of the four quarters, while only being outscored by a total of nine points in the fourth quarter, and overall scoring 42 more points than its opponents, yet still end up with a losing record?

Coach Kyle Whittingham summed it up in his own way: “We are a better football team this year than last year, but the record does not reflect that.”

Nope, it sure doesn’t.

This Saturday, Utah goes on the road to play Oregon in Eugene. I have heard far too many fans comment about how the Stanford Cardinal exposed the Ducks, and if Utah can beat Stanford then the Utes can also beat the Duck.

I will be the first to admit that almost anything can happen in any given game, but I just don’t see the stars lining up for Utah this weekend (and I sincerely hope I am wrong). Instead, I think the Ducks are going to be hopping mad over the loss at The Farm in Palo Alto last week, and are going to go out of their way to make a statement against the Utes in Eugene this week.

A loss against Oregon would leave Utah at 4-6 with two games to play — a road trip against Washington State and a fateful home finale against Colorado. Both games should be winnable, pushing the Utes to 6-6 and bowl eligibility. Nevertheless, the Buffaloes were supposed to be easy pickings the last time Utah played them in Salt Lake City and we all remember far too well how that turned out (a 17-14 loss that cost the Utes a berth in the Pac-12 title game).

On another note, the Runnin’ Utes men’s basketball team’s regular season started last week on The Hill. However, a 128-44 win over NAIA Evergreen State is the functional equivalent of Cosmo Kramer dominating a bunch of little kids at a karate dojo. I’ll start paying more attention when the Runnin’ Utes play a real team.

In the meantime, here’s to hoping the football team still has a little magic left for the remaining three games, and the basketball team improves substantially over last year’s performance.


Dwayne Vance is a sports columnist. The opinions stated in this article are his and not representative of St. George News.

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Copyright St. George News, LLC, 2013, all rights reserved.

Email: [email protected]

Twitter: @oldschoolag

Copyright St. George News, LLC, 2013, all rights reserved.

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