clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

College Football Hist-O-Graph Project - #14: Utah Utes

Examining Colorado, Pac-12, and Big XII Football over the last 10 years using the Hist-O-Graph...and then saying stuff.

"So, it is down to you, and it is down to me."  Anyone keeping track at home (or at the office, I'm not one to judge) knew Utah would be compared to Nebraska. It's fitting in numerous ways, but it puts me in a bind; I hate the color red and all its inbred little red brothers and sisters.  See? You can't even spell 'inbred' without red.

Additionally, we've had an influx of Uters onto the message boards this week. I want them to understand the hist-o-graph too, but I know that many of them are semi-literate at best.  So for keeping that filthy color off our frontpage and also letting the Utaahns know what-the-flying-flip is going on with the Hist-O-Graph; we're starting with Colorado's graph.  (If it still makes no sense, there's a link to the explanatory article after the jump).


Uterds, if numbers gives you a sad, then just make the jump and just bang your hands on your keyboards in the comments section...

I know many dislike the 'arranged marriage' rivalry we have with Utah, but they funny thing is that in some ways it's the same thing we had with Nebraska.  I know it sounds blasphemous, but if you look back at the records, during the Big 8 Nebraska's last game of the season was always Oklahoma.

Then when the Big 12 formed and those teams were separated Casablanca-style; Nebraska was left without a Thanksgiving-weekend opponent. So they paired the two best teams of the Big 12 North, and this being '96 it was Nebraska and Colorado.  Sure we've been playing the Huskers since 1902 (our only loss that year), but Bill MacCartney put the target on their backs and the Big 12 put us on Thanksgiving together. And the ever-polite Huskers maintained that it was never a 'real' rivalry. Even when they poured battery acid on us, they said it wasn't a rivalry.

Nebraska Cornhuskers Hist-O-Graph: The N stands for 'No Championships'


The first recorded game against them was in 1902 and we lost 10-0, Nebraska opened their schedule versus a high school team then, too. From WWI to 1965, they had ten good years; but in the 60's they discovered partial-qualifiers and wishbones. There were some National Championships and a Heisman winner, or something. Devaney was succeeded by Osborne ('72), and he by Frank Solich ('98).

I don't have to tell you what happened in '01, but I will anyway. Undefeated and primed to win their third Big 12 Championship ('97, '99), the Huskers traveled to their non-rivalry-thanksgiving-rivalry game led by an eventual Heisman trophy winner. They were promptly torched like a thatched-roof cottage, beat like a drum to the tune of 62-36, beat so bad they didn't show up for their next game: the National Championship.

See, even though they never played in the Big 12 championship game, the BCS placed Nebraska into the National Championship game against Miami. Nebraska lost badly there, too; the two games set records for how badly the Huskers had been beaten in single or consecutive games over their century of football.

In '03 before their bowl game, AD Steve Pederson fired Frank Solich to prevent Nebraska from "gravitating into mediocrity" and "giving up the Big 12 to Texas and Oklahoma."  Funny thing is that's exactly what happened anyways.

They've never had a winning percentage as high as in Solich's last year ('03). They won the Big 12 in '99 and then never again. Ever. Their recruiting from '03 compared to '10 is no better, and they've lost their draw in Texas.  Not only did they give up to Texas and Oklahoma, they ceded the whole damn thing to them and then took off running.

We all know how deliciously awful Bill Callahan's Nebraska teams were ('04-'07) and the flying Pelini brothers are wonderfully out of sync with the 'friendly plains-folk' myth. Icing on the cake is that their choice for best years of the decade are either the year they beat Northwestern in the Alamo bowl ('00), the year they left behind teams they've played for over a century ('10), or the year where they lost to Colorado 62-36 ('01).

Utah Utes Hist-O-Graph: Little Fish, Meet Big Pond


Our first recorded game against Utah was in 1905; where we beat them 46-5.  The Utes have a number of conference championships, but the 12 that came after WWII are from backwater conferences. Skyline, WAC, Mountain-West. Also, no national championship.

Somewhere in the '80's, Utah liked Miami's 'The U' branding campaign and adopted it for themselves, but they still weren't very good at football; their last outright conference championship was '57.

That last one was under Ron McBride, by the way, and Utah broke the top-10 at the end of '94, and a co-WAC championship (yes, laughter is acceptable) in '95 and a co-MWC championship (I'll wait so you can catch your breath) in '99. Like with so many others, two lack-luster seasons in '00 and '02 were all it took for the school to can the guy who brought them out of the primordial ooze.

Urban Meyer then appeared out of nowhere (Bowling Green) to replace McBride ('03), and use Utah as a red-and-white catapult.  His spread-offense brought two consecutive full-on Mountain West Conference championships and culminated in their 'busting' the BCS the one time it was meaningful; i.e. when there were still only 4 BCS bowl games total.  That '04 Fiesta bowl victory was over a 21st ranked Pittsburgh team where Utah's 80% 2-star team was higher caliber than Pittsburgh and all Big-East teams combined.

Kyle Wittingham was selected to replace the Urban-Meyer-shaped-cloud that was left behind in '05, and has steered them through the grueling Mountain West and bowl victories over Georgia Tech, Tulsa, and Navy.

Their '08 victory was in the Sugar Bowl and left them as the only undefeated team by the end of the season.  They did beat Alabama, and legitimately so.  But do you know how nobody takes your football seriously? When you're the only undefeated team left and you're not even in the national championship discussion.*  Did I mention they have no national championships? They don't.

*They were 'in the discussion' in the way a yip-dog begging scraps is 'sitting at the dinner table.'

Appearing on the scene has helped Utah to recruit more than just the local 2-star talent and they have planes now, so they've been able to recruit in Colorado, California, and Texas. It clearly shows, as '10 was their best recruiting class in the decade, and possibly ever.


As far as rivals go? To quote Lee Corso's other famous line, "not so fast, my friend."  I see that they really enjoy jumping up and down.  They've also learned to count!  And they really want to share it with you!

Part of what made acrimony with Nebraska easy was the diametric differences we had with them. We had mountains, they had corn. They wore cammo, we wore nothing of the sort. We love skiing, they love goats.  Thing is, Utah; we already have a rival like you, and they're called Colorado State.

You wear red though, which is enough to make me not like you; but it's going to seem forced here for a few years until someone starts throwing batteries, or block parties. I've seen it suggested that with our similarities that we should replicate the Georgia-Florida 'World's Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party' as our rivalry-mentality.  We'll see; like anything it'll take time.

All our 'rivalries' are contrived in some way on another (CSU included; it was a state mandate). Having a rivalry with Utah picked for us isn't the aberration; it's the next verse of the same damn song, but we've been able to make something of those other rivalries, too.  

The same will be true with this one as well. A great start would be going out on Friday guns-a-blazin'; denying their running back his rushing records and preventing them from advancing to the Pac-12 Championship game.

Go Buffs! Let's beat the crap outta those Huskers Uterds! Happy Thanksgiving Everyone!


#1: Introduction: Colorado and the Hist-O-Graph - It explains *mostly* everything

#2: The Three Kings: Texas, Oklahoma, and USC

#3: California Bears Have A Deal With the Devil, and the Missouri Tigers

#4: The Colorado State Rams Suck

#5: Ohio State Buckeyes: OSU, the OSU, and the other OSU

#6: Washington State Cougars and Iowa State Cyclones: Just... How?

#7: Stanford Cardinal and Texas A&M Aggies: Luck Has Everything to do With It

#8: Washington Huskies and Kansas State Wildcats: Here Comes a New Challenger!

#9: Oregon Ducks and Texas Longhorns: Here there be Monsters

#10: Arizona State Sun Devils and Texas Tech Red Raiders: Good in their Own Special Way

#11: USC Trojans and Oklahoma Sooners: Still Wearing No Pants

#12: Arizona Cardinals and Baylor Bears: Drawing the Short Straw

#13: UCLA Bruins and Kansas Jayhawks: Doing Less with More