A jumble of upsets, comebacks and stunning finishes in college football allowed the Utah Utes to move up one spot to No. 10 in the USA Today/ESPN coaches poll released Sunday, though they remained at No. 11 in the Associated Press Top 25 after having the weekend off.
It's the first time the Utes have been ranked in the top 10 since 1994, when they started 8-0 before losing back-to-back games. Coach Urban Meyer and his team return to action against North Carolina at Rice-Eccles Stadium on
Saturday night, riding a nine-game winning streak dating to last season.
The Utes moved up a spot in the coaches poll because No. 5 Texas fell six spots after its fifth straight loss to rival Oklahoma.
The other two teams that lost after having been ranked higher than the Utes - No. 3 Georgia and No. 7 Cal - remained above them in the new poll. Georgia fell to No. 8 while Cal dropped to No. 9, and none of the three teams ranked just below Utah that staged impressive victories on Saturday leapfrogged the Utes.
Wisconsin moved up four spots to 12th after its victory at Ohio State, Michigan moved up one spot to 13th following its comeback win over Minnesota, and Tennessee climbed three places to 14th - still six spots below the Georgia team whose 17-game winning streak the Vols ended.
All of that is a good sign for the Utes, demonstrating that voters aren't overly willing - so far, at least - to value teams from more prestigious conferences ahead of them.
Clearly, voters in both polls had varying thoughts about what to do with their rankings. The coaches dropped Texas below the Utes and kept Georgia ahead of them, for example, while the media dropped Georgia below the Utes and kept Texas ahead of them. Also, the media was willing to move unbeaten Wisconsin ahead of the Utes, while the coaches were not.
In the AP Top 25, the Utes stayed where they were because although Georgia fell below them to 12th, Wisconsin moved up five spots to leapfrog them into 10th place. Otherwise, Cal and Texas remained ahead of the Utes at No. 8 and No. 9, respectively, and Tennessee and Michigan stayed below them at No. 13 and No. 14.
The Utes were helped in both polls by Florida's last-minute home loss to LSU. The Gators fell 10 spots to No. 22 in each poll, and would have made things tougher on the Utes' poll positions had they not blown a four-point lead to lose 24-21.
Utah will make its first appearance in the Bowl Championship Series rankings next week, if they beat 3-3 North Carolina.
The first rankings of the season will be released a week from today, and a win will all but assure the Utes of being within the range to be eligible to be chosen for a BCS game. The Utes must finish the regular season ranked in the top six of those rankings, however, to guarantee themselves a place in one of the four BCS games.
At Rice-Eccles Stadium
Saturday, 8 p.m., KJZZ