We'd all love to expect an undefeated season, but the chances of this happening are about as good as Rush Limbaugh actually making sense. So instead of predicting the improbable, I thought I would take the next logical step and analyze how many wins the Utes can squeeze out of this schedule. But instead of looking at it in the typical look at every game and predict the outcome way, I've decided to try something new.
We're going to look at the likely outcome based on past results, of not only contests, but Utah's history as a whole. If my plan works, this will be a far more precise look at the schedule. If my plan doesn't work, well then we can laugh at how far off I was at the end of the season.
Let's first look at Kyle Whittingham's warts, which are quite big if you ask me. Hopefully, like warts, they vanish over time, but I'm going to play this as if they aren't exorcised for another season. Prove me wrong Kyle, prove me wrong!
Right off the bat I think you have to expect at least one loss to a team Utah shouldn't lose to. In my mind it'll either be New Mexico or Colorado State, since the Utes have struggled against both most recently. And while San Diego State might be a problem, as they were in 2005, I can't help but feel Utah wins this game. Especially after what they did to the Aztecs last year on the road. That's one loss to tack onto the Utes final record.
Then there's the fact the Utes haven't really done anything against BCS team outside of their Emerald Bowl win over Georgia Tech since Whittingham took over. Yeah they defeated Arizona in 2005, but they also lost to North Carolina and UCLA and while Whittingham is technically 2-2 against the BCS, neither win has cemented my faith in his ability to knock off good BCS teams. I do think however it's possible the Utes might get a win against either UCLA or Oregon State, but think it'll be unlikely. That's 3 losses right there, as painful as it might sound.
TCU is the next big test for Utah this season and I don't know if I really like our chances. Gerry Patterson is the best coach Utah will face this season and I've got to think the Frogs are out for a bit of revenge after what Utah did to them last year. The fact Whittingham hasn't had a signature win yet and that TCU is going to be really, really tough, makes me believe the Frogs win this game. That gives Utah 5-losses.
Then there's BYU. I don't know what to think about this game, because it can go either way. I expect Utah to win -- like every year -- but also realize that doesn't always happen. This game could be the difference between an ok season and a good season. Hopefully the Utes enter the contest with more than 7 wins and it would be even sweeter if they entered already wrapping up a conference championship.
Yet if Utah finishes with a winning record, or even 6-wins, they're going to a bowl game. And with their recent success in bowl games, I think it's perfectly acceptable to believe they will only continue their current bowl winning streak.
What we end up with is a season that might not look good to the naked eye, but if analyzed deeper would probably be seen as a success. However this means there is little room for error and two bad losses to two teams Utah shouldn't lose to might be the difference between what many see is a possible catapult to great things and another mediocre campaign.
I will say this tough, I think Whittingham is turning out to be a good coach and wouldn't be surprised if the Utes upset one of those three BCS teams and then ran through the conference, much like BYU did last year. Yet on the flipside I wouldn't be surprised if the Utes limped again to a poor finish. Hopefully though that does not happen.
Well there ya' have it, my system, which predicts about 8-wins (counting the bowl game). Not a bad season, especially if the Utes can get through conference play with no more than one loss.