How are ya'll feeling about the game? Do you have the same breath of optimism that you had last week? I don't really know what to make about the game, but obviously we're underdogs here. Utah is undefeated with their current head coach when they are coming off a bye week, a pretty solid track record. Paul Rhoads is 7-0 in night games, which sounds good too. But which is more of a feat?
For Utah, under their current coach (from 2005-now), here is who they had to play coming off bye weeks excluding bowl games:
2005: Wyoming - a team that went 4-7 and 2-6 in the MWC
2006: Colorado State - a team that went 4-8 and 1-7 in the MWC
2007: Wyoming - a team that went 5-7 and 2-6 in the MWC
2008: New Mexico - a team that went 4-8 and 2-6 in the MWC
2009: Colorado State - a team that went 3-9 and 0-8 in the MWC
Not exactly world beaters here, and this is a team that's making bowl games every year. You can't say Utah wasn't the better team, and would not have won despite the bye week. It's clear they typically play teams that just aren't that good after a bye week. I'm not saying ISU is all that, and I'm not saying Utah isn't better than in some of these previous years, but I am saying that the statistic isn't overly impressive.
More thoughts after the jump!
Now some Utah fans will point out the bowl wins, like downing Alabama in the Sugar Bowl. That is definitley impressive, but to me the 5-6 week prep for a bowl game is a whole different animal, and it isn't an animal the Cyclones are up against, so I'm throwing that out of the equation. All I care about is the regular season, because the bowl season is often more wacky than the usual wackiness of the regular season.
For Rhoads, the teams they've played at night are:
2009: North Dakota State, @ Kent State, Army, Baylor
2010: Northern Illinois, UNI, Texas Tech
Besides Texas Tech, these are all games ISU was favored to win.
So at the end of the day, the conclusion to arrive at with this stat that everyone in the media is using, is that it's overrated. I know, I'm as shocked as you that the media would do something like this, especially because they embrace statistics so much and are known for insightful analysis.
I do not think the Utah undefeated after a bye week factor, or the Iowa State undefeated in night games the last two years factor makes that big of a difference. I think it comes down to the usual: execution, and how prepared the players are.
How are you feeling about the game? Who wins?