Not to beat the realignment horse to death, but I think Utah's joining the PAC-10 might make for one of the most interesting upcoming storylines in college football.
Utah is coming off a 10-3 season last year, with losses to #11 Oregon ( 34-24 ), #6 TCU ( 55-28! ), and #12 BYU ( 26-23 ). They capped the season with a bowl win against an unranked Cal, ( 37-27 ).
If Utah succeeds in its first season in the PAC-10, will Boise State, TCU, and BYU become more attractive targets? Will undefeated MWC teams have a shot at a national title matchup?
In 2008 Utah was undefeated, the only team finishing that way, ending the season at #2. They knocked out a one-loss Alabama ( 31-17! ) in the Sugar Bowl.
Now, there have been a handful of teams that have been in Utah's situation over the last few years. Boise State finished undefeated in 2009, but only ranked #4 and was snubbed by being matched with undefeated TCU in the Fiesta Bowl. BYU and TCU have also been courting undefeated seasons, and looking to capitalize on them with at large BCS berth wins.
However, detractors from these teams know that they play light schedules in easy conferences with a few headliner games to pump them up the polls. It's much easier to go undefeated when you have 2-3 "must-win" games and 10 U of Regional Technical College matchups in between, rather than playing 8 or 9 weeks of BCS schools. Utah's depth chart will be challenged for perhaps the first time.
So, what will Utah's result be now that it has moved on up? Will they be able to continue their success? I think no matter what the result of their season, it will reflect on the other MWC teams as well and determine for the next few years what the national perception is of the strength of the MWC, as Utah/BYU/Boise State/TCU are all considered somewhat to be peers.
What will Utah's conference result be in their first PAC-10 season?
PAC-10 contender, 7+ conference wins (21 votes)
PAC-10 member, 5+ conference wins (40 votes)
PAC-10 punching bag, 3+ conference wins (9 votes)
They'll be lucky to win 3 conference games and to finish the season with a .500 or better record (2 votes)
72 total votes