The BCS picture remains as fuzzy as a Barbara Walters special. Who will emerge from the Big 12? The SEC? Will USC have to settle with an at-large bid?
Utah did its part to clear things up Thursday night as far as the mid-majors are concerned, and while there's no absolute clarity, it's as close as you could ask for in the first week in November.
The No. 10 Utes rallied for a 13-10 win over No. 11 TCU that effectively turns the mid-major race into a two-team showdown.
Ball State (9-0) is lurking at 17th in the BCS, but the Cardinals need more than anyone to earn a BCS berth. For all intents and purposes, it's down to the Utes and Boise State -- and it could be like 2004 all over again.
Both teams were undefeated, but Utah became the first mid-major to break into the BCS party, while the Broncos were relegated to the Liberty Bowl.
Utah was eighth in the latest BCS standings, while the Broncos came in 10th. The Utes are bound to widen the gap between them on the strength of the win over the Horned Frogs, who were 11th in the BCS.
It would seem that Thursday's Utah win was the worst possible thing that could have happened to the Broncos, but the Utes winning actually gives Boise State more of a chance than a TCU win would have.
The Utes still have a big game ahead of them against rival BYU, while the only thing that would have kept TCU out of the BCS, had it won, would have been Air Force. Boise State, whose schedule down the stretch (Idaho, Nevada and Fresno State) won't give it much help in trying to make up ground, has to like its chances a little bit more relying on the Cougars than the Falcons.
In the end, Boise State needs help. But in putting themselves in position to control their own destiny, Utah got some help of its own.
The game opened with shades of the Frogs' 37-2 romp of then-No. 9 BYU as they took a 10-0 first-quarter lead in piling up 202 yards, but the Utes responded by limiting TCU to six second-quarter yards and they took advantage of a number of Frogs errors.
There was the two field goals Ross Evans missed in the fourth quarter, either of which would have given TCU a seven-point lead.
There was the Sean Smith interception in the second quarter that set up Louie Sakoda's 37-yard field goal and there were the penalties, a season-long problem for the Frogs.
TCU came into Thursday ranking 118th out of 119 teams nationally in most penalties per game (9.3) and dead last in yards per game (83.7). Against Utah, it was flagged 11 times for 70 yards, including a pass interference penalty with two minutes remaining that put the Utes into Frogs territory on the game-winning drive.
While TCU continued to shoot itself in the foot, the Utes hung close to the resiliency that has led them to 18 wins in their last 19 games.
When Evans missed his second kick, a 35-yarder with 2:48 to go, Utah's BCS dreams were about to go up in smoke as they faced a fourth-and-five at TCU's 26 but Brian Johnson hit Freddie Brown for an 11-yard gain. Two plays later, they connected again on the 15-yard go-ahead touchdown.
As the fans rushed the Rice-Eccels Stadium turf, they swarmed the Utes, their postseason hopes saved, and chanted "BCS! BCS!"
Utah isn't there yet. But in taking out another contender, the mid-major picture is now that much clearer.