Bleeding Red: Ute fans drowning disappointment in turkey gravy

Turkey, turkey, turkey
I eat you every day
Turkey, turkey, turkey
Takes the stress away

COMMENTARY – I think I figured out why we eat so much during November. We are stress eating through all our college football nerves!

Utah was in the same situation as it was last season. Win out and the Utes are in. Lose and they are in trouble. The nerves started early in November, when the Utes went down south to play the Arizona State Sun Devils. The last couple of seasons, Utah has not done well when going down to play either of the Arizona schools. However, they took care of business down there and as a result, their season stayed alive. If you think that would stop the nerves, you are sorely mistaken. The stress got worse as the build-up to the showdown with Oregon last Saturday at Rice Eccles Stadium approached. 

utesI certainly could have used a turkey leg to gnaw on during the first half of play, which was indeed stressful as both teams racked up over 200 yards of offense apiece, yet the score was the Utes leading 7-3 at halftime. However, the second half started off better … then the stress got cranked up until Oregon scored the game winning touchdown with two seconds left. With that in mind, I am now looking forward to Thursday, when I can drown my sorrows in gravy and whatever I decide to put under the gravy. 

With Utah’s loss and Colorado’s win at Washington State, the Utes are officially out of contention for the Pac-12 South and the overall Pac-12 title. With that being said, Utah still has to travel to Boulder and face the Buffaloes, plus an eventual bowl game in December. Whether the Utes beat Colorado or not, they are going to finish in the standings at roughly the same spot as last year. So, in terms of good bowl games, Utah’s best hope is the Las Vegas Bowl. It is not likely that they will even make it to that bowl, but it appears to be their best bet unless the stars, the moon, and planets perfectly align for them to somehow get picked for the Holiday Bowl.

Frankly, going to the Las Vegas Bowl for a third straight year does not seem like much of a reward. If anything, it feels like a slap in the face for yet again failing to live up to so much opportunity and potential. Is there any point in even paying attention for the last two games?  Is it even worth it? I mean who wants to go to the Las Vegas Bowl again? I certainly don’t.

Oregon quarterback Justin Herbert (10), scores a touchdown as Utah defensive back Marcus Williams (20) tries to tackle him in the second half of an NCAA college football game, Saturday, Nov. 19, 2016, in Salt Lake City. (AP Photo/George Frey)
Oregon quarterback Justin Herbert (10), scores a touchdown as Utah defensive back Marcus Williams (20) tries to tackle him in the second half of an NCAA college football game, Saturday, Nov. 19, 2016, in Salt Lake City. (AP Photo/George Frey)

It is easy to focus on the negative and to complain in life and to not recognize or be grateful for the things that we have. While complaining to my girlfriend Saturday night about how unhappy I was of the prospect of going back to the Las Vegas Bowl, she pointed out that perhaps instead of complaining, I should be grateful that the Utes are at least going to a bowl.

I thought about that for a second as her words washed over me and I realized that she was right. There are a lot of bowl games in this country (perhaps too many) and it is definitely easy to think that if you are not in the Rose Bowl or the CFB Playoff that your season was a failure. However, there are a large number of bowls that are not as prestigious as the Las Vegas Bowl and there are plenty of teams that are not bowl eligible who I am sure would think that playing in the Las Vegas Bowl would be the bee’s knees.

“We’ve won eight games, we’ve had a pretty good season,” Utes coach Kyle Whittingham said. “I don’t know what the expectations are – I expect to win every game – but from the outside looking in, do you guys expect us to win every game? I don’t know what the expectations are and what is realistic, but to be in the hunt deep in November.”

The main focus for Thanksgiving is being grateful for what we have and, with that in mind, instead of complaining that Utah is not in the Rose Bowl, I will try to be grateful for the fact that the Utes do get to go to a bowl game and that I get to see Utah football suit up one more time than they would otherwise – even if it is the Las Vegas Bowl.

One good thing to come out of Saturday’s game is Joe Williams continues his fairytale season by getting past the 1,000-yard rushing mark.  He is the 13th player in school history to have a 1,000 rushing yard season and he did the lion’s share of it over only 5 games. This Thanksgiving, I am definitely grateful for Joe Williams. His story and play in the latter half of the season has been an absolute joy to watch unfold and he has been one of the best things about the team this season.


After a week of smashing Concordia and Coppin State, the Runnin’ Utes are 3-0 to start the season. Considering the level of opponents Utah has been playing, it is satisfying to see that they have gotten the job done as expected. The Runnin’ Utes are largely a new team and it has been good for them to play teams that are not very good. As their non-conference season continues, that will begin to change with matchups against Butler and Xavier coming up and of course, their conference schedule will be anything but easy. 

Tyler Rawson takes a shot for the Runnin' Utes, Utah vs. Concordia, Salt Lake City, Utah, Nov. 15, 2016 | Photo courtesy Utah Athletics
Tyler Rawson takes a shot for the Runnin’ Utes, Utah vs. Concordia, Salt Lake City, Utah, Nov. 15, 2016 | Photo courtesy Utah Athletics

So far early in the season, Utah has had good play from returners Kyle Kuzma and Lorenzo Bonam. What has been a blast watching so far is the play of the new young players! Freshman Devon Daniels has started all three games thus far and has shown to have a lot of athleticism and to be a good all-around player. He has yet to score a large amount of points in a game, but is all over the place on the stat board and should continue to be good as the season continues.

Tyler Rawson, a junior transfer from Salt Lake Community College, has probably been the best big man besides Kuzma so far. This guy plays great defense and knows how to play in the post and has the ability to score from the outside. Although I wish he would stick more with the inside game and be more selective on the 3-point attempts.

The Runnin’ Utes will next play UC Riverside on Friday at 7 p.m. in the Huntsman Center, whereas Utah football will travel to Boulder to take on Colorado on Saturday at 5:30 p.m. Even though they don’t get to play for a chance to go to the Pac-12 Championship, they can spoil Colorado’s chance to go if they win.

Enjoy the turkey and mashed potatoes, Ute fans! We certainly need it after what this football season has put us through.

Today’s Bleeding Red sports column is guest-written by Josh Vance. The opinions expressed are not necessarily those of St. George News.

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Twitter: @oldschoolag

Copyright St. George News, LLC, 2016, all rights reserved.

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