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Kragthorpe: Pac-12 performances should scare Utes

Published September 14, 2012 12:22 pm

College Football • While Utah fizzled, rest of the conference stepped up
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2012, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

If Friday was a disaster for the Utah Utes, Saturday was even worse.

Having lost to Utah State in overtime, the Utes watched three of their Pac-12 rivals score impressive victories over Big Ten schools. The wins by Arizona State, UCLA and Oregon State certainly hit home, because those teams happen to be three of Utah's first four opponents in conference play, on the road — in addition to the Utes' hosting No. 2 USC.

Suddenly, a 1-6 start of the season is in play for the Utes, should they lose to BYU on Saturday. A Utah win would change that outlook, of course.

Yet there's no dismissing the notion that ASU, UCLA and OSU are better than expected. The Utes may have emerged as the third-best team in the league after the opening weekend, but this past weekend's results demand some recalibrating of their present and future.

They'd have to rank in the bottom half of the conference at this point, having been overtaken by ASU, UCLA, OSU and Arizona, which routed Oklahoma State of the Big 12.

ASU faced the least imposing opponent among the three Big Ten visitors, but the Sun Devils looked fast and efficient in positing 510 total yards in a 45-14 defeat of Illinois.

With quarterback Brett Hundley throwing four touchdown passes, UCLA racked up 653 total yards in a 36-30 upset of Nebraska. Hundley's performance showed what the Bruins have been missing in recent years, when Rick Neuheisel and Norm Chow were coaching their offense. They haven't had a quarterback like this guy.

And the OSU defense that gave up huge rushing yardage to BYU and Utah last October obviously is improved. With four sacks contributing to their success, the Beavers held Wisconsin to 35 rushing yards in a 10-7 victory.

The Utes are justifiably proud of scheduling a home-and-home series with Michigan in 2014-15. The sobering news is that Pac-12 schools already are playing Big Ten teams and beating them.

kkragthorpe@sltrib.com

Twitter: @tribkurt