Halloween is always filled with a bit of tricks and an awful lot of treats. This Saturday, the Utes will hope for a bit of both as they host Wyoming in what can only be called the darkest night of the year.
The blackout, after much success in 2008, returns again this season and falls on the perfect day of the year for it - Halloween. Granted, the Cowboys might not be up to the level of the Horned Frogs from last season, but it should certainly add to the atmosphere.
Beyond that, the Utes will look to secure a bowl berth for the seventh consecutive season. If they win, at 7-1, they would match Whittingham's lowest win-total as a Utah coach - and this with five more games left. It would also provide them with only their second 4-0 conference start since the Urban Meyer era ended.
Of course, the last time the Utes opened up with four consecutive conference wins was last year, the season they won the Mountain West outright. But this isn't 2008 and Utah has struggled a bit over the course of their first seven games. Last week, against an Air Force team that blanked Wyoming 10-0 seven days prior, Utah barely managed to win - pulling out the clutch performance in overtime.
Much of their problems seem to stem from their offensive woes and though the offense stepped it up in overtime, they failed to gain a first down the entire second half. Statistics like that, regardless of the outcome, can only get you burned. The Cowboys, who are looking for their first bowl appearance since the 2004 season, will certainly try to exploit those issues.
That's where the key will lie. If the Utes can come out and put together a solid offensive performance, Wyoming won't win. They don't have the offense to keep up with even a half-decent Utah team. With that said, another performance like last Saturday and things could once again come down to one or two plays. For a game that many thought would be a sure-win at the start of the season, this is not exactly what Ute fans were expecting. However, Wyoming still owns zero impressive wins and it's hard to see that changing this week, even if Utah can't find offensive consistency.
Utah wins if...They don't turn the ball over and find some offensive progress. It's that simple. Wyoming isn't a good team. They might be at 4-3, but all four wins have come against poor competition and they've lost to every good team on their schedule. That should happen again Saturday.
Wyoming wins if...Utah overlooks them, turns the ball over and stagnates on offense. If this game were in Laramie, I'd feel a bit more nervous, but it's not. The Cowboys haven't won here in years and I really don't see a scenario where they put together a performance good enough to win.
What will happen...The Utes' offense actually looks good and they win going away. Air Force's defense was really solid and it showed. They kept Utah in check and Wyoming doesn't have near that type of defensive power. Because of this, Utes win 38-14.
What're your predictions?