We know for sure they're playing at least one ranked team (Pitt). But other than the Panthers, who else will be ranked heading into their game against the Utes?
TCU seems like a near-lock with how much talent they bring back and the fact they start the season 7th nationally. But that game is in November and a lot can happen from now until then, so I won't count my chickens before...yada, yada, yada.
Beyond that, though, you've got Notre Dame as a possibility (a tough, but winnable early schedule to get into the top-25) and BYU. The Cougars are interesting because they've been ranked every Holy War since their 6-6 season in 2005. That's four consecutive rivalry games where BYU found themselves in the top-25. The big difference this year, however, could be their schedule. It isn't unrealistic to see losses to Washington, Air Force, Florida State and TCU heading into the November showdown with the Utes. If that's the case, or they even lose three of those four, it's unlikely they'll be ranked at 7-4 or 8-3.
Other than those teams, I don't really see any other possibilities. I guess the Falcons could surge into the rankings even if they lose to the Sooners at the start of the season (their schedule becomes very winnable after that). However, they face TCU the week before the Utah game in Fort Worth and a loss there would surely knock a 6-2 Falcons squad from the rankings. A win? Well that's probably unlikely.
By my count, the Utes will probably face only two or three ranked teams this year. Maybe four if BYU doesn't struggle early in the season. To compare, in 2008, they played four ranked opponents: Michigan, TCU, BYU and Alabama (remember, the Beavers weren't ranked when Utah beat them - that only happened later). So we're looking at a very comparable schedule to 2008.
What do you think?
How many ranked opponents?
1 - Pitt only. TCU will falter and have a 2007-like season. Notre Dame won't be quite there yet and BYU will have three or four losses. (5 votes)
2 - Pitt & TCU. (112 votes)
3 - Pitt, TCU and Notre Dame. (161 votes)
4 - Pitt, TCU, Notre Dame and BYU. (117 votes)
5 - Pitt, Air Force, TCU, Notre Dame and BYU (22 votes)
6+ (3 votes)
420 total votes