No. 8 Utah finished a perfect regular season and claimed the Mountain West title with a convincing 48-24 win over No. 16 BYU. Following the momentous victory, Rice-Eccles Stadium hosted a grand celebration. Cheers reached a fever pitch when star QB Brian Johnson took the mic.
"Where do you want to go?" Johnson delightfully asked a gleeful crowd. "Miami? New Orleans? Arizona?"
That's right -- the 12-0 Utes will return to one of those magical Bowl Championship Series locations; the original BCS Buster is back. Now Utah can just sit back and wait until Dec. 7, when the BCS pairings will be announced and Johnson will receive an official answer to his question.
While the 2004 Utes were defined by Urban Meyer's prolific offense, this edition is a more balanced bunch. The Johnson-led offense is perfectly capable of putting points on the board, but Utah's defense probably deserves more credit for this BCS run. Both units made major contributions in today's win. The Utes D completely terrorized former Heisman candidate Max Hall, who threw a career-high five interceptions and lost a fumble. Offensively, Utah followed the lead of its vastly underrated signal-caller. Johnson completed 30 of 36 passes to eight different receivers for 303 yards, four touchdowns and zero interceptions. It was a well-rounded effort against a quality BYU team.
Tonight should a wild one in Salt Lake City (relatively speaking), but Utah's triumph caused grand melancholy one state to the north. No. 9 Boise State improved to 11-0 today with a 41-34 win at Nevada, but with Utah's win, the Broncos' BCS bubble has officially burst. Even if Boise State wraps up a perfect regular season of its own by beating Fresno State next Friday, the Broncos have no chance at jumping Utah in the BCS standings. And considering there will be plenty of viable at-large options from the major conferences, there's just no possibility of a second BCS buster.
So, two seasons after Boise State proved its legitimacy by upsetting Oklahoma in a thrilling Fiesta Bowl, the potentially undefeated Broncos will be excluded from the BCS party. This is sure to ruffle some feathers. Although I'm not one to question the six automatic bids awarded to college football's major conferences, many folks will raise a ruckus about the ACC. At best, the ACC champion will finish the regular season with three losses, yet a trip to the Orange Bowl is guaranteed. Not to mention the ACC holds a pitiful 1-9 record in BCS bowls.
Is it fair that the ACC automatically earns a bid over a potentially undefeated mid-major with a BCS victory already under its belt? It's easy to dispel Boise State by pointing to its soft slate, but is this really something the Broncos can control? They did schedule and beat then-No. 17 Oregon. And at the end of the day, how many "worthy" opponents are actually willing to put the dangerous Broncos on their schedule?
What are your thoughts?