It’s Mid May, we are just under 4 months until the College Football Season starts. Spring Football has come and gone so of course we need to get some way too early predictions in for the upcoming season. Just know that these predictions are very much fluid and subject to change based on injuries and other issues once fall camp begins.
Coming off a 9-4 season last year and 5-4 in Pac 12 Play, Utah Football looks to build on last season. This year’s schedule gets just a slight bit easier from a year ago. Gone from the Pac 12 schedule is Stanford and Wazzu and Washington and Cal return to the Utes Conference slate. Utah will also play what might be the most anticipated game on the Opening Weekend of the College Football Season, when they entertain the Michigan Wolverines and their new Head Coach Jim Harbaugh.
What I’ll do below is layout the schedule and give a best and worst case scenario for Utah Football for the upcoming season, and we’ll go under the assumption that everyone is healthy and contributing. Also, while I believe that every game is winnable I’m not so bold as to believe or predict a perfect season.
The Wins-Michigan, Utah State, at Fresno State, Cal, Oregon State, UCLA, Colorado
These are the games I feel most certain that Utah will come away with victories. You’ll notice that all but the Fresno State game are at Rice Eccles Stadium. When you talk to people around the Pac 12 they always mention 3 venues as definitive home field advantages: Autzen Stadium, Husky Stadium and Rice Eccles Stadium. While there will be a ton of hype around the Michigan game, I just don’t think that Harbaugh’s boys will have enough talent to come on the road to beat a very good Utah team at home. Of the above games, only UCLA gives me pause. It’s late in the year, their freshman QB will be more experienced and it comes after back to back road games at UW and Arizona.
The Losses-at Oregon and at Arizona
As I said above I’m not going to pick a perfect season, which means I’ll have to pick a loss or two somewhere. As I also mentioned above there isn’t a game or an opponent on the schedule that Utah can’t beat. With that said, I think that both Oregon and Arizona are going to be really really good this year. The Ducks are a preseason Top5 and Rich Rod brings back most of the talent he had a year ago in Tucson. Both these games are on the road too. They are also both the 2nd game of back to back road games.
The Swing Games-Arizona State, at USC, at Washington
These are the three match-ups for Utah that I think can swing their season from being solid to good or very good. Utah has not beaten Arizona State since joining the Pac 12, though they have played them tough the last two seasons. In fact, you could make a case that they could have or should have won either or both of the last two meetings. I think this is the year that Kyle Whittingham gets Sparky aka Todd Graham. The game is at Rice Eccles and coming off the Cal game. The Trojans in the Coliseum are another story. Sark’s team will be loaded again this year and it’s on the road and after an emotional win at home against ASU. A tough spot for the Utes, so I’ll say a loss. The final swing game is one that I’ve been looking forward to since Utah joined the Pac 12..A trip to Seattle and Husky Stadium against Washington. This Washington team is a hard one to gauge under second year Head Coach Chris Peterson. They were loaded with NFL picks galore defensively last year but were that great. I think Utah is more talented, but will have to overcome that ever so difficult home field advantage. Utah wins…
So I’ve got Utah going 9-3 this upcoming regular season. That’s my prediction before fall camp opens. It would be an upgrade from last year’s 8-4 regular season. I think there is potential to be even slightly better. My best case scenario for Utah would be (10-2) and my worst case, assuming injuries or losing close games that were won a year ago, would be (7-5).