(Above: Utah LB Stevenson Sylvester makes clear who he thinks is No. 1.)
Let the debate commence—again.
Utah stunned Alabama in the Allstate Sugar Bowl on Friday night by a score of 31-17, completing an undefeated season and igniting another controversy over college football's lack of a playoff system.
Behind the passing attack of senior quarterback Brian Johnson, the Utes stormed to an early 21-0 lead in the first quarter and never looked back. The Crimson Tide briefly cut the lead to 21-17 early in the third quarter after a Utah turnover on the opening drive of the second half. But Johnson's 28-yard touchdown pass to David Reed less than 100 seconds later gave Utah the breathing room it would need the rest of the way.
It's the second time in five seasons that the Utes (13-0) have finished a season undefeated. It's also the second time in five seasons that an unbeaten Utah team will not get a chance to play for the BCS National Championship.
Meanwhile, the season for Nick Saban's Alabama squad (12-2) ends on a decisively sour note. After holding the #1 spot in the BCS standings for four weeks, the Tide has since squandered its berth in the title game, and now its presumed consolation prize.
Unfortunately, the Utes never received the same chance that Alabama did. For that, we have the college presidents and their beloved BCS to thank.
Utah WR Brent Casteel dives for the Utes' opening score...
...and celebrates in style. The first quarter rout was on.
Bradon Godfrey leaps after his TD catch staked the Utes to a three-touchdown first quarter lead.
"Wait a minute...aren't WE supposed to be the 10-point favorites?"
Javier Arenas provided the lone spark for the Tide in the first half, returning this punt for a 73-yard touchdown in the second quarter.
Utah coach Kyle Whittingham does his best not to look like the cat that ate the canary.
Ute fans were understandably less restrained, whether fueled by Bourbon Street spirits, or just good old fashioned team spirit.
The crowd enjoys the halftime presentation. Reports say tickets were plentiful outside the Superdome before the game, and some seats in the upper reaches went unfilled.
The Utah Marching Band performs during halftime on the Superdome field.
Utes WR Freddie Brown runs after one of his 12 catches. Brown tallied 125 yards receiving on the night.
Alabama quarterback John Parker Wilson (18-for-30, 177 yards, 1 TD, 2 INT) had a rough night, seen here after one of the seven sacks he endured.
Another sack of Wilson by...
...Stevenson Sylvester, who had three on the night.
No sack allowed here, but that's probably little consolation to Wilson.
Utah QB Brian Johnson drops back to pass in the fourth quarter. Johnson was superb, completing 27-of-41 for 336 yards and 3 touchdowns.
Nick Saban tries to fire his team up in the fourth quarter.
Coach Whittingham receives the victory shower...
...then receives the victory handshake from Saban.
Coach and quarterback hoist their prize.
Johnson's performance was enough to garner him the Most Outstanding Player trophy.
The rest of the Utes get their turn with the trophy...
...and show some love to the fans who made the trip to New Orleans.