Okay - so I thought, you know, it'd be best to start focusing on the Pittsburgh Panthers. I know it seems kind of crazy and all with the endless expansion chatter we've heard over the last week. But it is kind of an important game. Maybe the most important opener since Texas A&M. Could even be more important because, unlike the Aggies, the Panthers are expected to be good.
So as we inch closer and closer to the 2010 opener, what are your thoughts? In fact, why not sit down and open up to me a bit about the game. You have any fears? Hopes? Dreams?
Lay 'em all out. Let's get emotional. Let's relive all the bad times when our preseason hopes were dashed in a manner of one game. I'm thinking UCLA in 2006 and Oregon State in 2007. Remember those games? Remember the expectations and hope and buzz surrounding Utah's program before they went out into Pac-10 country and were humbled by a couple of non-coastal powers?
Yeah, me too.
Then there are pleasant surprises - like the opener in 2004. It's not that I was surprised by the win, rather surprised at how thoroughly dominant Utah looked. It quickly foretold the success of that 2004 team.
On the other end of the winning spectrum, there is a game like Michigan. It was a good win at the time (though as it played out, the Wolverines looked worse and worse), but it wasn't a good performance by the Utes. At least not in the second half when they let Michigan back into it.
After that game, we felt the Utes could be good - but were unsure of how good. In fact, for most of that season, we never really got that answer until they beat TCU. That's just how crazy it was in 2008.
Will this year's opener follow the same path? Should we expect a solid effort by Utah and not a game where they play just well enough to win? It is at home, after all, and that Michigan game came on the road. In the opener against a team hungry to prove themselves (they had lost in the '07 opener to... Appalachian State).
So should we expect an opener similar to 2004, 2006 or 2008? Hopefully not 2006 - but if it's similar to 2008, will you be more discouraged about their outlook or more excited?