Maybe it is all a pipe dream and the Utes are about to get curbstomped like never before. But I'm not giving up and I think some fans already conceding a loss should be slapped upside the head.
Sure, they might be looking at this from a more rational point of view, but c'mon! Saying Utah is going to lose (you know who you are) over and over again isn't going to make you more right if they lose. It's always fun having inflated hopes entering games like this. Hell, that's what got me through the weeks leading up to the Sugar Bowl. I not once caved to the belief the Utes would lose. Even if, deep down, it felt like they could.
This isn't any different. I'm not naive. I know Utah is heavy underdogs. I know Utah has to play their best game of the year to even hope to win. But I also believe we're at the point as a program where there should never be a game we concede as a loss. Ten years ago? Maybe. Twenty years ago? Definitely. Today? No. Even if we were about to enter a road contest against the Florida Gators.
So, because of that, I've been going over in my head ways the Utes can win. And the more I think about it, the more I start actually believing they will. Maybe that's just me fooling myself and I will admit my mindset entering this game is probably a bit more radical than most of you. I expect and hope for a win. Anything less will be crushing.
If Utah is going to win, I believe they will need to do the following:
- No turnovers. This is probably the biggest issue facing the Utes entering Saturday's game. Turnovers are drive killers. Turnovers give the opposing team a better chance to score. Turnovers, against a really good team like TCU, will bring about defeat. There is little margin for error here and Utah can't recover from turnovers. But we knew that, right?
- Poise, especially from Jordan Wynn. For a quarterback in this type of atmosphere, it's imperative he keep his poise. It sounds redundant, but it's true. If the Utes have any hope of beating the Frogs, he can't panic. That means no forced throws, no sitting in the pocket for a second or two longer and most importantly, he can't throw any interceptions. Okay, maybe he can get away with one, but even that might be pushing it. Wynn has never played in a game of this magnitude and I think that's both a blessing and a curse. A blessing because he probably won't over think the crowd, opponent and pressure; a curse because he might not be ready for the crowd, opponent and pressure.
- Stay on the Frogs' ass. Crude? Yes. But it's something Utah needs to do. The longer they linger around, the better their chances of winning. The Utes have been here before. Most these players have won the game TCU needs to win Saturday. On the other hand, the Frogs full well know their history as a program and this series. If Utah is still in this game entering the fourth, I'm betting it's TCU who tightens up and potentially chokes away the victory.
- No falling behind 10-0. Last year, TCU went up 10-0 after just two possessions. It looked like they would blow the Utes out of the water and then Utah settled down a bit, shutting them out the remainder of the game. They can't rely on another comeback this time around. Not with this game coming on the road and a young offense running the show. If the Utes fall behind by double-digits after just two Frog possessions, they won't win.
- Get in Andy Dalton's head. Interesting fact, Dalton has yet to throw for a touchdown against the Utes. If Utah's defense can keep Dalton in check, it should make the game close enough to where they can gut out a big win. It's also important to note in two starts against the Utes, Dalton has thrown six interceptions. If Utah can force a couple picks Saturday, they will be in great position to steal this one.
There are more. But I think these are the keys to victory. Maybe it is an uphill battle and maybe I'm asking too much from the Utes. But I can't in good conscience expect a loss. Of course, that doesn't mean I'm ready to bet the house on a Utah victory, either.