Week four will mark Utah's first jaunt out of the state of Utah as they travel to Tempe and take on Arizona State. This is a team that rocked the Utes in Salt Lake City last year and appeared to have all but locked up the Pac-12 South before an epic collapse that cost coach Dennis Erickson his job, and maybe, his legacy.
This year's Sun Devils team is absolutely not the same apparent force that most preseason publications pegged as favorites in the South. They lose most their defense, have to replace the 6'8 Brock Osweiler (his height was ingrained into my head watching every game last season), and also have an entirely new coaching staff. This is not the team that came to Salt Lake with swagger and turned a game that was close in the third quarter into a blowout.
But it should be apparent to most Utah fans after the Colorado debacle last season that no game on this schedule is a given - especially a road game. Arizona State might not have a great deal of experienced talent, but they're still at home and if Utah overlooks the Sun Devils to their showdown with USC (fortunately, a bye week should help with that), they could get caught napping and lose.
What I do know is that ASU is never an easy road trip because of the heat. We don't know what time the game will take place, but it's possible, even in late-September, the temperature is still a problem. The average September high in Tempe is 100 and 89 in October. I'm guessing the 22nd of September will fall somewhere between there on average.
So, there is the possibility of heat - ungodly, awful and dry heat.
One advantage Utah has going for it is that they played against Arizona State's head coach last year. Todd Graham, of course, ditched Pitt last season, a season where Utah won on the road against the Panthers 26-14. I'm guessing his offense won't be too radically different than what he ran there and at Tulsa.
We'll see, though. Regardless, Utah should be the favorites to win and if this game was fought on paper, they would. Hopefully a bit of a revenge factor will fire this team up so they don't take an inexperienced Sun Devils team lightly.