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Great news for Utah football no matter what happens in the Rose Bowl


After years of hard work, the credibility of the Utes is no longer up for debate with every result.

(John McCoy | AP) Fans pose for photos before the Rose Bowl NCAA college football game between Utah and Ohio State on Saturday, Jan. 1, 2022, in Pasadena, Calif.

Should the Utes win the Rose Bowl game?

A year ago, I said yes, at least that it was important for them to do so. There was still work to do, a program reputation to build, beyond all the nice and fun things that come to the team, the players, the coaches, the fans alongside the winners.

It turned out that Utah got a lot of positives from the good rebound of the win in their loss to Ohio State. What a game it was – tight, competitive, even and balanced in preparation and talent, fantastic sports entertainment, a thrill every minute.

Winning is always better. No duh. For all the reasons listed and more. But this time around, the preparation for the Rose Bowl has a different feel. It feels more like a celebration of a memorable season and memorable seasons past than any sort of laborious task to accomplish, any sort of point to prove.

Utah football is top notch, and everyone knows it.

It’s not at the level of Alabama and Georgia and a handful of other teams that are college football perennials. And for the Utes, it’s a mountain worth climbing. An invite to the College Football Playoffs would be nice – and the extended version will provide a much bigger opportunity in future seasons.

What happens in the coming years is what should have happened years ago, but the slugs that control these matters – and the money that’s split between them – are about as frigid as anyone. any group anywhere. It’s a question that’s been discussed thousands of times, in this column space, in other column spaces, on talk shows, around your dining room table. The correct answer is almost here.

As for the Rose Bowl 2023, it is an exhibition. It means in the best sense, not in the sense that it doesn’t make sense, that it doesn’t matter. He does it on both counts.

But the fact that the Utes will have their chances of winning a title beyond the Pac-12 in the future gives comfort to what they are doing now – preparing for bigger things to come, not numerically, winning the title. champion with the best record will guarantee the opportunities they seek. Reputation games will affect overall playoff berths, and won’t it be both entertaining and infuriating to watch this all unfold.

Utah’s football quest is therefore far from over. There is still work to be done. The program did not arrive. But much of the heavy lifting has already been done. His chances of conquering the college game now smile on the Utes, should they continue their way to the top.

It should be noted that the Pac-12, a league that acted like it was doing all sorts of favors for the Utes by letting them into its exclusive club in 2011 – and it was – is now more dependent on football from Utah than Utah football. depends on the league. We can argue on that point, but as conference champions two years in a row, having reached the title game four out of five years, the Utes have more than proven their worth. They, along with Oregon and Washington, are in the Pac-12 marquee, and they deserve to be there based on the results that matter most — on the field, on the scoreboard.

This is made more real than real with USC and UCLA lurking down an alley to the Big Ten. No one knows what the future holds for the Pac-12, but if the league sticks together, the Utes, along with the Ducks and Huskies, will play an important role. From a purely competitive standpoint, the Oregon State Beavers also appear to be a strong player.

As it stands, Utah is the king of football in the West.

Penn State will try to prove that East isn’t least and West isn’t best in Pasadena. There’s always pride and bragging rights to play for. Both teams will want to win. Yeah, no duh.

The bottom line here is this: Utah no longer needs to play to legitimize its entire program. There is a certain fluidity in everything, but its credibility is not to be debated with each result. He’s already climbed that hill. Now he just wants to enjoy the view, and search and work for another peak to climb.

A recent report, if you choose to believe it, ranked the Utes as the ninth most valuable program in all of college football, ending up among blue bloods, ahead of some of them.

Winning on January 2 at the Arroyo Seco would be nice and fun. But it’s more about the aforementioned celebration, a festival of football, commemorating not only what the Utes have accomplished this season, but in seasons past, putting them in a place where future opportunities can now come to fruition.

Monday therefore brings no nervous threat, it is a red day that begins with a more than symbolic capital U.




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