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The Quad ranks Utah 40th

I don't agree with this at all. I think Utah should be a 26-35 team, especially with how well they ended last year. I also have trouble accepting their season premise, but understand why they would make them.

My take on what they had to say.

Head coach information: Kyle Whittingham (’84 B.Y.U.), 24-14 over three seasons with the Utes. Whittingham is the first head coach in Utah history to reach bowl play in each of his first three seasons in charge. Whittingham has also won each bowl game: the 2005 Emerald Bowl (by 38-10 over Georgia Tech), the 2006 Armed Forces Bowl (25-13, Tulsa) and, last fall, the Poinsettia Bowl (35-32, Navy). His ascension to the head job, coming after Urban Meyer left for Florida, seemed like a logical move; Whittingham had been on the Utah staff for the previous 11 years, including the final 10 as defensive coordinator. However, that bowl season saw Whittingham receive head coaching offers from both Utah and Brigham Young, his alma mater — and Utah’s chief rival. Whittingham was an all-WAC. linebacker for the Cougars (the 1981 WAC Defensive Player of the Year) and spent two years after his graduation as a B.Y.U. graduate assistant. Eventually, Whittingham chose the Utes, though B.Y.U. has certainly not suffered in their choice of Bronco Mendenhall. When you include his 11 seasons as an assistant, Whittingham has participated in 110 wins — more than any coach in the history of the program. After leading the team to one-win improvements in each of his first three seasons, Whittingham seems to have the Utes in good shape in both 2008 and beyond.

There is no doubt Whittingham has a solid resume, especially at Utah. There are some holes left to be filled, but I think he's done a solid job leading the Utes through some fierce waters. Now if he can just push this program to the next level, I think we'll all feel extremely confident about the future of Utah football.

High point: The Utes went 2-1 against B.C.S. conference opponents, losing 24-7 to Oregon State before beating U.C.L.A. by 44-6 and Louisville by 44-35. In the M.W.C., Utah’s best victory was a 27-20 win at T.C.U. on Oct. 18. Utah topped Navy, 35-32, in the Poinsettia Bowl, their seventh consecutive bowl victory.

A lot of high points in 2007 and nearly the best of them all, however, like the year before, Utah failed at stopping BYU on their final drive. It's a shame, too, because that was the difference between a 9-win season and a 10-win season with a top-25 finish and much bigger props and publicity heading into 2008. However, 2007 offered a glimpse into what Utah can be under Whittingham if things go right. This is a good program with talent and a foundation capable of making it great. Whether that happens under Whittingham is yet to be known, but he has definitely put them in position to strive for greatness.

And for what I did not like...

Season breakdown prediction: I don’t think my predicting Utah as the third-best team in the conference is a slight against the Utes, but instead a statement on how strong the top of the Mountain West will be in 2008; B.Y.U., as everyone knows, is a favorite to bust into the B.C.S., and T.C.U. will be their usual nine- to ten-win selves. I really like Utah: I like their defense, even with five lost starters, and if Johnson can return to form, the Utes may have the M.W.C.’s second-best offense, trailing only their bitter rivals in Provo. Utah and T.C.U. are extremely close in over all talent, and getting the Horned Frogs in S.L.C. may be enough to put the Utes into second place in the conference – though neither team will be as good as B.Y.U., the heavy favorite to win their third-straight M.W.C. crown. So how good can Utah be? I already predicted a win over Michigan, which would be a huge start, and the Utes can certainly go on quite a streak from there through November. Over all, Utah should not finish with anything less than seven wins, and can definitely reach double-digits with a strong start to conference play. That might be stretching it a bit, but I predict Utah finishes 9-3; unfortunately, I believe two of those losses come to T.C.U. and B.Y.U., dashing their hopes for a conference title.

I have a hard time accepting a loss to TCU, but mostly because I think Utah is just a terrible match-up for the Frogs. Their only victory over Utah since joining the Mountain West came in overtime and it was a win against a fairly inexperienced team, both on the field and on the sidelines, as Whittingham was marking his first year at Utah. Since then, Utah is 2-0, including a victory over TCU last year in Fort Worth.

As for BYU, it's tough to predict the outcome of that game because the past three seasons have seen extremely clost contests. Of course, BYU had a huge advantage on Utah in 2006, even though the Utes made it close, and though the Utes and Cougars were more equal last year, BYU had the added benefit of playing at home. This season is different, as Utah should not be much worse than the Cougars and they play them in Salt Lake City. That, in my mind, should give a slight advantage to Utah, but ultimately, that advantage is too slight to make any type of solid prediction.

Ultimately, it was a decent write-up, but I disagree with what was said about Utah's season. I wouldn't be surprised if the Utes went 9-3, however, they should probably win 10 regular season games, unless they do manage to drop one of those games they really have no business dropping. I believe there are four defendable losses on this schedule: Michigan, Oregon State, TCU and BYU. I do not expect Utah to lose all those games and if they do, it will be hard to defend. However, one or two losses to any of those four teams could be likely. Anything more, though, and we're looking at another underachieving year, especially if it costs them a shot at the Mountain West.