We at the Clipper don't suppose we can give a definitive answer, but we can take a closer look at the teams Utah has played and will play this year.
First, the pre-season opponents. Utah ran over, around and through the Texas A&M Aggies in August, and this is the crown jewel on Utah's throne in 2004.
The jury is still out on the Aggies, as they won six straight games after losing to Utah, but then lost to a horrible Baylor team a couple of weeks ago. Not good.
Then, against Oklahoma on Saturday, they lost again.
The Aggies are a solid football team, but a far cry from a great team.
And Arizona? Yeah, they're a PAC-10 school. But they've also won one game-Northern Arizona-and struggled doing so. The Wildcats are nothing close to a good football team.
There's really no need to even talk about Utah State, but since they're on the Utes' schedule, here it goes. They're probably the worst team on Utah's schedule, and a 700-ton steel anchor dragging the Utes' strength of schedule down. Enough said.
North Carolina is an interesting football squad. They had to come from behind to beat William and Mary in their opener, got creamed by Louisville, and then beat Miami.
They're talented to be sure, but far from a great football team.
Alright. On to the Mountain West Conference. To be blunt, the conference is the worst it's been in its six-year history.
Colorado State and Air Force are both way down. San Diego State and New Mexico are huge and moderate disappointments respectively, and UNLV is just awful.
Wyoming and BYU are both solid, with the Cowboys in particular much exceeding people's expectations.
But beating either team won't do much to impress the national media.
So yeah, there's really no other way to spin it. Utah's schedule is weak sauce.
However, there is a saving grace. The Utes don't just beat the teams on their schedule, they destroy them. Both Texas A&M and North Carolina are talented teams, and both games were close for about three minutes.
Utah could have scored 150 points on both Utah State and UNLV. Utah has been challenged for all of one half this year-their opening half against Air Force.
While their schedule is far from great, there is no doubt Utah is a very, very good football team. How do I know? Just watch 'em. Anyone with half a football brain can tell you that. How many times has Alberts or other national media members seen an entire Ute game? Not once I'd bet.
If they had, they wouldn't be so hard on the Utes. Still, how does this Utah team stack up against the national powers such as USC, Oklahoma and Auburn? The Utes are hoping to find out in January in the Fiesta Bowl, if their strength of schedule doesn't force them into the Liberty Bowl. So will it be the Utes vs. the BCS for big money, or the Utes vs. Conference USA for peanuts?
Their schedule may hold the answer.