Utah State goes for its first conference football title ever Saturday, December 7 in Fresno when it takes on the Fresno State Bulldogs for the Mountain West championship. It should also be said that the Aggies are the only football team in the state playing for a title this season -- which makes this game big news.
Other than the Ags dominating the football news as they should, it was a very strange week in college and pro basketball across the state and could get more strange. The Utah Utes basketball team finally lost this past week, dropping a 69-67 heartbreaker at Boise State, a game that the Utes had multiple opportunities to win.
So now that the Utes are no longer undefeated -- because they cannot shoot free throws to save their life, let's discuss BYU. The Cougars warmed up for the big game at No. 21 UMass this Saturday, Dec. 7 by blasting North Texas 97-67 at the Marriott Center in Provo earlier this week.
Look, at least somebody won this week. The Aggies were fortunate to not have to play at all these past seven days, so they also get a pass, giving them the opportunity to recover after that rivalry loss to BYU last Saturday.
As for other teams not so fortunate, put the Utah Jazz back into that category. The Jazz have welcomed back Trey Burke like Moses welcomed Jethro's daughter into his family. (That's a Biblical reference for the Non-Believer.) Burke led the Jazz to a victory Monday night -- but then reality set in, which is this: the Jazz aren't very good -- and so Utah lost 95-86 to Indiana on Wednesday, December 4 to close out the week.
But, the big game everyone is talking about is in Fresno, Calif. tomorrow when Utah State takes on Fresno State for the Mountain West Conference football championship.
So what's up next for the Utes, Cougars, Aggies and Jazz?
Check out what the Believer and Non-Believer have to say about all the upcoming action...after the jump...
Utah Utes basketball
So what's next for the Utes? Big week on tap. (Cough, cough.) Fresno State on Saturday, December 7 and Idaho State on Monday -- before getting ready for their biggest game yet, a showdown with BYU. The Utes look like they can play some pretty good basketball.
But, they still really haven't played anyone with a decent record (other than the game at Boise, which they lost.) So, jury's still out on Utah. I don't know what to think -- and up next in a few games, is BYU -- then Saint Elizabeths, wherever that is. At least they're playing the Cougars. When does the Pac-12 season start?
Utah must be playing some better basketball because people are actually talking about it on your favorite sports talk show.
Just as they start showing signs of life, typical Utah fan in typical Utah fan fashion starts popping up and talking, "That I was always here..." BS. No you weren't. The Non Believer has been calling you out before I started writing this little column.
Thank goodness they finally started playing again. It will be the only in-state rivalry game for a few years while Dr Hill hides from a yearly threat to lose a non-conference game. Now, beat teams like Boise and I will take the time to learn your names.
BYU Cougars basketball
For the Cougars, the road doesn't get any less difficult than it has already been. BYU gets to play UMass, yet another nationally ranked team and Prairie View A&M, another good team -- and then the Cougars get to play Utah, which is not exactly an easy team from what anyone can see. Is there any relief in sight?
Why, yes there is; thanks for asking. The West Coast Conference is FILLED with crappy teams -- and Gonzaga. So BYU will get its fill of horrible opposition soon enough. For now, Cougar fans, enjoy your feast of good teams -- because it won't last.
Easily the best team in the state in yet another sport. The Cougars had little trouble with the team that likes to call wolf -- or some call it USU. Most of the game was 6-on-4. Matt Carlino doesn't always remember he is playing a team sport.
Despite that the Cougars showed the rest of the state why they are again the team to beat. Now if they can finally win the conference of high school sized gyms.. Seriously?... It's like watching the film Hoosiers every conference game. Can they match the speed of Saint Mary's or the tradition of Gonzaga. It will be fun to watch them try.
Utah State Aggies basketball
The Aggies, they get 6-1 Pacific on Saturday at the Smith Spectrum of Doom. The Tigers are always a difficult team to play because of the great job Ron Verlin has done. This is not a gimme game for Utah State -- despite being at home.
Pacific is scoring well over 80 points per game and the Tigers have weapons the Aggies had better pay attention to -- or it will be a track meet and a loss like it was against BYU. Gotta slow them Tigers down.
The little team that could. Remember when the Believer was crying wolf about the preseason ranking? How can they be ranked behind Boise? Because all they are is a fourth or fifth-best team in a stacked Mountain West.
That being said and having this game behind my beloved Cougars I can honestly say. They play hard. They are well coached. Their home court advantage is pretty awesome. The student section rivals any in the country. They should make a bronze statue of their coach outside. Now. But still only four or five in the MWC this year.
Utah Jazz basketball
Ah, the Jazz, they have fallen back to their old ways after showing glimpses of being a winning team. Surprised? Me neither. The whole winning thing is not for this season -- and the loss to Indiana proved it even if some guy just wants to write a story for a free press pass.
The winning thing will come after the Jazz step onto the podium and have selected any of the top prospects it can get with a top 5 pick.
As for the now (not important in terms of winning) Utah is currently losing at Portland (this game will finish after press time) -- but could possibly win tomorrow night at home against a lowly (as usual) Sacramento Kings team.
Learn to play together. Play hard. Get the young guys their minutes. Get Brandon Rush healthy. Build momentum... Lose a crap load of games. Can a team lose a ton of games and still build confidence? This is what they are being asked to do. Who steps up? Who goes packing?
Two guys that have impressed the Non Believer and two players that no one else is giving much credit to: Richard Jefferson, who has been playing pretty good ball. He gives the team some much needed experience. And Marvin Williams. His ability to give the Jazz a spark has been refreshing.
Neither player was expected to do anything but finish a contract. Both have been key guys in the recent success the Jazz have been enjoying as of late. This is a must watch team. Stop paying attention to records. You are not a true fan if you only follow when they win. Hint Hint.. Utah fan.....
Utah State - Fresno State football prediction
Utah State is facing a tall order tomorrow night in Fresno -- but here's the thing: Fresno State hasn't played ANYBODY GOOD on its schedule. You cannot count Boise State; the Broncos had a down year and besides...Chris Petersen is headed out the door to Washington. So scratch them and Colorado due to the disaster in Boulder off the list and that leaves...nobody.
Not one decent opponent that the Bulldogs have played. And, the one solid opponent that Fresno did play, or Rutgers? Yeah, the Scarlet Knights almost upended the Dawgs and David Carr's brother. Look, I could say his name was Derek Carr but you all know who David Carr is, anyway. Let me save you some space by saying Utah State wins, handily. USU 49 Fresno 17
Real Salt Lake prediction
Look, it was absolute BS that RSL fans had to go through all that crap to not get a ticket to the MLS Cup game in Kansas City. It's bad enough that fans in the state of Utah haven't had a title since RSL last won one in 2008 -- but now we have to go there and play in 20 degree temperatures?
Is this hockey? Can't Major League Soccer do something about this -- and move the game to a warmer climate? About the game, RSL has too potent an attack for Sporting Kansas City to be able to compete. I thought Portland had a chance in the Western Conference final; I don't think KC has any possible way of winning this game. They just don't have enough offense -- even if their defense is supposedly good. Guess we'll find out, huh? RSL 3, KC 0
Ugh..... Really? Again? Soccer... I hear they are about to win another title nobody could pick out in a line up with other trophies. If they can just win in KC the rabid scarf wearing fans can turn over cars and light them on fire. Sandy will burn! Or?. I will see a blast about it on facebook by the one soccer fan I know.
Then the rest of us will say.. That's right. There was a soccer game on today. Quick question? Why does spell check want you to capitalize facebook when facebook doesn't capitalize facebook? See.. That was more entertaining than soccer..
The guest columnist "Non-Believer" is actor/comedian Jim Stevens. You've seen him on Arctic Circle commercials playing the "blond astronaut", and he's one of the infamous "Stevens Brothers" in Adam Sandler's cult classic "Punch-Drunk Love."
Jim also teaches acting, and more information is available at: http://thesugarspace.com/classes/actors-anonymous-with-jim-stevens/