I have attempted to chronicle San Jose State's resurgence as best as possible over the past 12 to 18 months, but it is now time to step back apply some perspective to the proceedings.

Yes, the Spartans have made remarkable progress.

Yes, they are 4-1 for the first time since 2006.

Yes, they are two wins from being bowl-eligible, and played well at Stanford, and look like a WAC title contender, and are ready to enter the Mountain West.

But let's be clear: The schedule has been a tad, shall we say, soft.

SJSU's four victories have come against:

  • UC Davis, a sub-.500 FCS team.

  • Colorado State, which is 1-4, lost to North Dakota State in Week 2 and just got thumped by Air Force, which itself is a .500 team.

  • San Diego State, which is 2-3 with wins over Army and North Dakota.

  • Navy, which is 1-3, its lone victory coming over Virginia Military Institute.

    Add it up, and SJSU's four victims are a combined 6-13, with only two victories over FBS teams (and bad FBS teams, at that).

    Under third-year coach/magician Mike MacIntyre, the Spartans are clearly good enough to consistently beat bad major college teams.

    But are they good enough to consistently beat decent major college teams?

    And are they good enough to occasionally beat good ones?

    The next two months will provide the answer.

    Result: Won at Navy 12-0.

    Grade: B-

    Comment: The offense gets a D for failing to score a touchdown, while the defense gets an A for the Spartans' first shutout of an FBS opponent since 1988 (UNLV).

    It was the first time Navy has been held scoreless since 2006.

    (Two other factors canceled each other out: the long trip and the substandard opponent.)

  • MacIntyre on his preparation for the triple option, which was masterful:

    "Back when I was a young coach and thought I knew everything, we played a school that ran this option offense. I tried to stop it in one week, and 55-0 later, I said 'I'll never go through this again.'

    "We practiced for the option in the spring, summer, during two-a-days, on Sundays and the week of the game."

    The Spartans had some trouble early adjusting to the speed of Navy's execution (impossible to replicate in practice).

    But once it settled in, SJSU knew what was coming, when it was coming, and where to be to stop it -- as if defensive coordinator Kent Baer was in the Navy huddle.

    The Midshipmen gained 144 yards, their lowest total in 10 years.

    "We were a little discombobulated out there," Middies coach Ken Niumatalolo said.

  • Defensive end Travis Johnson had three tackles-for-loss and a fumble forced -- a big fumble, on Navy's first drive, that seemed to give SJSU momentum it never relinquished.

    Johnson not only makes plays (261/2 career sacks), he seems to have a knack for making them when SJSU is most in need.

  • Damon Ogburn's interception late in the third quarter with Navy driving was also an important development . . . and representative of the game as a whole:

    Good play by SJSU, bad play by Navy.

  • Kicker Austin Lopez was 4 of 4, connecting from 29, 19, 32 and 43 yards.

    The freshman . . . the true freshman . . . is 9 for 9 this season.

  • Regarding the offense: SJSU moved the ball well in the middle of the field (388 total yards). The problems were in the red zone.

    The Spartans failed to score touchdowns on three trips inside Navy's 20. One drive stalled at the 2, another at the 7.

    Against Utah State (and BYU and Louisiana Tech), that won't cut it.

  • On the other hand, SJSU was 9 of 16 on third down and now ranks No. 29 nationally (47.8 percent) in a crucial statistic that had been problematic for years.

    Next up: Off, then Utah State.

    The matchup: Good time for the bye or bad time? I say: Good time. The more time to prepare for a big game, the better.

    If SJSU was about to play Idaho, or New Mexico State, then the break might not be optimal. But the Spartans need as much time as possible to correct mistakes, refine the game plan and get all the 4-1 elation out of their system.

    Utah State is the second-best team the Spartans have played, and it's not close.

    I'd argue that the gap between the Aggies and Stanford is smaller than the gap between the Aggies and everyone else SJSU has played thus far.

    The Aggies beat Utah, they nearly won at Wisconsin, and they dominated Colorado State in Fort Collins (ahead 31-12 with two minutes remaining before a meaningless late CSU touchdown).

  • Please note: Utah State plays Brigham Young on Friday. It's on ESPN (7 p.m.), if you're interested in getting a look at what the Spartans will face in two weeks.

    For more on college sports, see Jon Wilner's College Hotline at blogs.mercurynews.com/collegesports. Contact him at jwilner@mercurynews.com or 408-920-5716.