The Utes have 4 games left and sit at 4-4 on the season. While any hopes of a conference championship most likely went down with the Utes during their loss against New Mexico, the season is not over. I hate saying there's still much to play for, because there really isn't, but I think it's vital Whittingham secure a strong finish for next year. If the Utes struggle and flop in their next 4 games, 2007 could turn ugly and may usher in dramatic change (though I'm not sure that's a bad thing).
The Utes remaining schedule is winnable and nothing can change my opinion of that. There isn't one team the Utes should lose to, even though Air Force, Colorado State and BYU all have better records currently than Utah. Whether the Utes succeed at finishing their season strong will ultimately rely on whether Whittingham gets things turned around and lights a spark that's long been blown out (maybe since the Utes loss to TCU in '05).
Here's a look at the schedule and how I feel Utah should do in each game. I say should and not will, because with the Utes team it doesn't seem anything's a given.
UNLV - If the Utes lose to UNLV, it's over. Utah hasn't lost to the Rebels since 1979 -- 10 straight -- and I don't think they lose this season, either. A dominant win could get things rolling, however, a close game may mean Utah's struggles aren't done yet.
Colorado State - The Rams are bad and I honestly don't think the Utes should lose this game. But it's also not a given and Utah will need to bring their A-game.
@ Air Force - The biggest test Utah will get and even if the Utes enter this game with a 6-4 record, I'm still not going to be too optimistic about their ability to win it. The Falcons aren't a great team, but even when they're not good, they give the Utes trouble. Playing against them in Colorado Springs will be a difficult task and might be too much for Utah to overcome.
BYU - The Holy War and a game that could mean BYU's first victory in the series in 5 tries. I honestly don't know what to make of this game, but right now I'm not optimistic about it. I don't think BYU is that good, but Utah's clearly worse. If the Utes can pick things up and enter this game with a 7-4 record, maybe I'll change my tone.
Looking at the schedule, I'd say the best odds are the Utes picking up wins against UNLV and Colorado State, while losing to Air Force and BYU. That would put their record at 6-6 (5-6 against D1-A competition) and a pretty disappointing season in my book. However I could also see them going 8-4, 7-5 and yes even 5-7. It will come down to what Utah team shows up in the final four games of this season. If it's the team that played so well in the first half against the Lobos, then they will be difficult to stop. If it's the team that played so poorly in the second half against the Lobos, then they will find it difficult stopping anyone. Right now, I'm leaning on the latter because I just do not have confidence in this coaching staff and their ability to get it going. Now here's to them proving me wrong.