The beautiful Cache Valley, where the Aggies lay in wait for their next victim.
That’s right, I’m talking about the Cache Valley, where Utah’s major football programs come to get humbled... at least since 2010 that is. Two years ago the mighty Cougars of BYU dared to trek north to take on the Utah State Aggies and this happened:
Then, last Friday, in front of God, me, Amieable, a stadium half full of Ute fans and a national ESPN audience, this happened:
Don’t you love watching the Ute fan in front of me go through all the psychological stages of grief in about 7 seconds? From denial (We’re saved, it was pass interference!!!), to anger (how could they not call that, we were SCREWED!), and finally acceptance. This is like watching a replay of myself at the 2002 Apple Cup.
Anyway, is it time to start believing... in the Aggies? Next up, a date in Camp Randall with the flailing Badgers of Wisconsin. Could the Aggies be 3-0 and ranked at this time next week? Not sure I would bet against them at this point.
But I digress... we have our own team to talk about, amiright? Lets do that after the jump...
Last Friday I’m sure a lot of you were rooting for Utah, hoping that the conference could put their best foot forward against a team from the WAC, but Amieable and I were Aggie Blue through and through.
Being in that stadium with all those dejected Ute fans and the hysterical Aggie faithful made me even less patient for the day when its finally our turn to celebrate again. Since we are currently trying to soothe ourselves by scouring the thesaurus for superlatives to describe the FCS team we just barely beat at home, not to mention arguing amongst ourselves about a brewing QB controversy, It may seem like we are a long way from the promised land. I think it’s time to check in with our peers in the Pac-12 and see just where we stand. Ted Miller gives us his Power Rankings each week, but I am not so interested in the difference between individual teams (Is ASU really better than UA at this point?) as I am about a more generalized idea of how teams shake out. At the beginning of the year I had the conference roughly divided into 4 tiers and I was curious, once games began, to see how close these tiers were and which one we’d find ourselves in. Here they are:
The cream of the crop - Oregon and USC:
The high-middle of the Pac - Stanford, Washington, Utah, Cal:
The low-middle of the Pac - UCLA, Arizona, Arizona State, Oregon State, Wazzu
The Bottom of the Pac - Colorado
I think its fair to say that Tier 1 is solid and unchanged after two weeks. Moving on to the middle tiers, things have definitely not gone as “expected”. At this point I think its fair to say that you can move just about everybody from the high-middle except Stanford, to the low-middle and replace them with everyone in the low-middle EXCEPT Wazzu. Now, thanks to Huddy, we can just leave Colorado alone, right where they are in the bottom tier. Tough times in Boulder. So my new chart looks like this:
The cream of the crop - Oregon and USC:
The high-middle of the Pac - Stanford, UCLA, Arizona, Arizona State, Oregon State:
The low-middle of the Pac - Washington, Utah, Cal, Wazzu
The bottom of the Pac - Colorado
These tiers are going to remain fluid for the rest of the season, but at the conclusion of Pac-12 play teams in the top two tiers are going to make a bowl, the next tier teams have a shot at a bowl, but only one, or maybe two of them will make it, and then there is Huddy’s cellar of doom. The reason I am sharing this imaginative exercise with you all is to make a point that despite our disappointing start to the season, our position relative to our peers remains unchanged. We are not in a worse spot than we were at the beginning of the year, though we certainly haven’t moved up at all. I will say that teams in that next tier up look much, much tougher than I thought they would and I now find it hard to imagine beating any of them. It is also disappointing that of the four major coaching changes in the conference, we are far far behind in getting our new system running smoothly. Mora, Rich Rod and Todd Graham all have their offenses rolling against BCS opponents, while ours is in the ditch without a AAA card. It is a grim reality.
Well, now I'm depressed.
Looking for encouragement? I would say that no matter how we have played so far, the teams in our tier all look beatable, as do the Buffs. On Friday night Amieable and I watched a Utah team that, while solid on defense, has absolutely no teeth whatsoever on offense. Take away their running game, and they are effectively shut down. They also just lost their starting QB, and despite the cheers from the “classy” Ute fans behind us who were happy to see Jordan Wynn get knocked out and replaced, their other options at QB are not very exciting. I think I speak for the rest of the Pac-12 when I say, “Bring it on, John Hays, LOL.” Cal has also sputtered early and Washington hasn’t shown anything yet. There are 5 “winnable” games left on the schedule and you gotta think there is at least a 50% chance Leach can cook up a serious upset for us at some point, but our margin of error remains very thin. Sadly (or ironically?) our defense is playing well enough that if we had half the offense we thought we would, we could be sniffing that next tier right now. Ugh, you know what I could use right now? A trip to Vegas...
Well, that’s about as much encouragement as I can give you right now, folks. Hope to see you all in Vegas and GO COUGS!
Oh, and Go Aggies too!