It was encouraging to see strong attendance at all four major football games along the Wasatch Front on Saturday.
Weber State welcomed 10,221 fans to its homecoming game, a 20-6 Wildcats win over UC-Davis. Weber fans can be especially fickle, so any football game with more than 10,000 showing up is a score.
Finally, Real Salt Lake pulled in a crowd of 18,317 at Rio Tinto Stadium for its Rocky Mountain Cup and MLS match with the Colorado Rapids. The rest of the world would call this the “real” football match.
With 135,108 people showing up at football games along the Front on the same day, it’s a sign of healthy programs from Provo to Ogden — with a soccer stop at Sandy thrown in.
Speaking of that RSL game: Did you catch the Nat Borchers header in extra time that saved Salt Lake from what looked like certain defeat? Here’s the video highlight of the play (click on “Goal” under “Highlights”). I’m glad I was able to see the play on TV as it happened; I’ve learned not to take my eyes off the Salt Lake side for a second.
And, back to BYU and Utah, the big dogs of football in the state: I’ve found it fascinating to watch BYU fans attempt to endure the frustration of not only a lousy start (1-3 after four games) but also the success of the hated Utes (4-0 and ranked No. 13 in the nation) and the knowledge that Utah will be joining the prestigious Pac-12 next year.
Some Cougar fans are looking for any stray table scrap in their efforts to minimize the Utes’ move to the big-time conference and discount their own team’s troubles. Case in point: From BYU fandom Monday came the righteous indignation that, according to the Sagarin ratings, BYU has the fourth-toughest schedule in the country, while Utah has the 112th.
OK, let’s analyze this for a minute. Utah beat a Top 25 team (Pittsburgh) and won its two conference games (UNLV and New Mexico). On Saturday, the Utes demolished the wretched San Jose Spartans. Unbeaten in conference, a Top 25 win and a steamroller win over a patsy. So far it’s been a weak schedule, but the results have been outstanding.
Now, BYU … a nice home win against Washington of the Pac-10 (soon to be Pac-12). Then the Cougars were schooled by Air Force in their lone conference game. A nasty road loss to Florida State and a teeth-gnashing home defeat to Nevada (one of the soon-to-be members of the MountainWest conference, which BYU ironically is bolting next year). That’s a tough opening schedule with poor results.
Conclusion? Just win, baby. Let’s start giving more credence to Cougar fans’ whining about schedules when they win some games. As it stands, BYU is losing to MountainWest teams while looking ahead to their jump to independence next year. How’s that working out for you, Cougar town?