They're scary. Those games you know could just ruin a good season. You keep them locked away in the back of your mind and as the season progresses you just keep thinking "if only we get by...." and then when you do, it's instant relief. Until you realize the next week is another one of those pesky trap games. Utah fans are all too familiar with these types of games, as they've easily undone what could have very well been at worst conference championship seasons. But will they play a role in this season and if so, which games could unravel Utah's quest for a greatness?
I honestly think this is the year where Utah does not fall for those damn trap games. Not this time, anyway. Maybe I'm wrong and just fooling myself, but I feel confident they've exorcized those demons -- especially since I know that UNLV game will haunt Coach Whittingham for the rest of his career. You do not ever get over a loss like that. However, that doesn't mean the team and fans should just ignore these games, because if they do, we'll have another UNLV on our hands.
With all that said, here's my trap games for the Utes and what could very well be the outcome if Utah isn't careful.
How is this a trap game? Well look back to last year and you see why this is on the list. In all reality, though, Utah probably won't lose to UNLV. In fact, Mike Sanford hurt his team more by gloating after the game. As Joe Glenn learned last year, it isn't good to piss off Kyle Whittingham. I expect this to be an easy victory. But since the Utes lost to them last year and will be coming off a possible emotional win over Michigan the week prior, I can't say this is not a trap game.
This is a trap game for many reasons.
1) It's coming a week after a big game against Oregon State in Salt Lake. If Utah beats the Beavers (that sounds pretty pornographic), they'll be riding a high into Laramie and could overlook the Pokes.
2) It's Laramie and the Utes have struggled there at times (think '06).
3) Wyoming will be fired up and ready to go. They will not forget last year's 50-0 drubbing and they want payback.
Luckily, for Utah, Wyoming is not as talented and the Utes really should not lose this game. If Utah does lose, it'll be because they overlooked Wyoming. No excuses.
@ New Mexico:
Hard to really call this a trap game, since it comes after a bye week and two weeks from playing CSU. But it is New Mexico and the Utes have not faired well against them recently (last year notwithstanding). Plus it does come a week before what could be a huge showdown with TCU. Add in the fact it's on the road and this could be the most likely "trap game loss" Utah faces this year. With that said, a loss here probably would not be too surprising unless the Utes were undefeated heading into this game.
San Diego State, really? Yup. I think the Aztecs will be better this year than last and it's sandwiched right between TCU and BYU. That means if Utah beats TCU, they'll be lovin' life, especially if the Frogs are really good and then they'll have their eyes set on BYU. That can hurt, especially if San Diego State isn't much improved over last year's record (Utah could overlook them). This is a loss, like with Wyoming, that should not happen. But it's also a game the Utes can't overlook, because the Aztecs have talent and the ability to surprise.
I'm not expecting Utah to run the table, but there is no reason they should not win all four of these games. I guess I could give some leeway for a possible loss to New Mexico, but even that will be hard to accept. That means, if Utah takes care of business, all they need to do is get past TCU and BYU and they should win the Mountain West. If they lose both those games, it's not likely and if they lose one of these trap games, or yikes, one they really shouldn't, then it's unlikely they win the Mountain West.
Win 'em all and control your own destiny. I guess that's easier said than done.