When you win at least 10 games for three straight seasons, it is hard to call anything a disappointment. Yet Utah may be best remembered this season for its 47-7 loss to TCU, a game that showed its 8-0 record at No. 5 ranking in the BCS standings were not what they appeared to be. Still, this season has to be considered yet another in a line of success stories, considering the unknowns headed into 2010. You figured the offense would be just fine with a core group returning, including quarterback Jordan Wynn, running backs Eddie Wide and Matt Asiata, and a solid offensive front. But the defense had to replace seven starters, including all three linebackers. Well the new faces at linebacker stepped up big time, and the defensive line showed its strength and depth. A new star emerged in the secondary in safety Brian Blechen, a true freshman who made big plays at crucial moments. Shaky Smithson also developed into one of the best punt returners in the country. This may not have been another undefeated season, but it certainly was another good one. Another note to remember: Utah’s senior class leaves as the winningest in school history with a 42-9 record.
Offensive MVP: QB Jordan Wynn. Yes, he missed two games during the season with an injury, and was awful in the two losses. But so was the entire offense. He still gets credit for finishing second in the league in passing yards per game (233.4) and taking another step forward in his development. But next year is going to be absolutely critical with Utah joining a bigger conference.
Defensive MVP: MLB Chaz Walker. The second-team all-Mountain West Conference selection leads Utah with 103 total tackles. He is the first Ute to reach 100 tackles since 2007 and his 103 tackles with one game remaining ties him for the most in the past five years. Incredible, considering he began his career as a walk-on and this is his first year as a starter.
Turning point: Losing 47-7 to TCU on Nov. 6. Utah went into the game ranked No. 5 in the BCS standings and a 21-game home-winning streak. But TCU cruised to a 23-0 halftime lead and Utah was never in the game. The hangover lasted another week. Utah played an uninspired game against Notre Dame and lost 28-3 for back-to-back losses in which it scored just 10 points.
What’s next: Utah plays No. 11 Boise State in the MAACO Bowl Las Vegas on Dec. 22 in its final game as a member of the Mountain West Conference. The Utes join the Pac-12 for next season.