No one really knows how the season is going to turn out. Even in 2004, all that speculation was just that, speculation. Yet it's impossible not to look ahead, predicting the probable/likely/unlikely outcome of what is about to transpire. It can give us hope, or even ground us in dark reality. But each year we fans look at the schedule and guestimate how Utah will finish. Most of the time we're wrong, but sometimes our predictions do, in fact, come true (thank you Urban Meyer).
So it is that time, a few weeks before the season, to look at the schedule and speculate just how the season will turn out. But instead of doing it in just simple terms, I thought it would be best to look at it from three perspectives: the best case, worst case and most probable case. Today, the worst case.
Let us begin...
Don't read if you don't want to be bummed.
Something goes wrong against Michigan. Maybe it's Johnson who goes down, or Asiata sprains his ankle tripping over the serving cart on the flight to Michigan, only to fall on Mack's leg, breaking it. Maybe it's just the Wolverines are that much better than Utah, but for whatever reason, they do not leave Ann Arbor with a victory. It hurts, but is it the end of the world?
Focused on UNLV, with last year's game seared into their mind, the possible hobbled Utes struggle, choking after the Rebels keep it close for a half and wilt in the end. Mike Sanford shocks the Utes for a second straight year, pumping his fist into the air while being carried off the field on the players' shoulders.
Of course, knowing how luck goes here at Utah, the players would trip, spilling Sanford onto Corbin Louks, snapping his arm in half.
After that, the Utes travel to Logan, where Brent Guy finds enough magic in his mustache to upset the Utes. The Logan faithful, after a minute of digesting the stunning win, storm the field, stampeding over the entire Utah defensive line.
With their entire defensive line out, Whittingham begins recruiting fans from the stands for Utah's next game against Air Force. But all does not go well and the Falcons walk to an easy victory over the deflated Utes.
At this time, Whittingham is ready to throw up the white flag. But Ron McBride is on the schedule next and surely that should be a victory, right? Well all the voodoo magic in the world won't save McBride and his Wildcats from a drubbing at the hands of the Utes. Utah finally gets its first victory of the season. In a moment of insanity, fans crash onto the field and rip down the goal posts, but some accidentally hoist McBride up instead of Whittingham...I guess old habits do die hard.
Feeling a new vigor, the Utes set their eyes on Oregon State. Yet it's another setback when the Utes fail at pounding the Beavers. They come up just short of scoring and leave RES empty handed.
Trying to rebound, Utah travels to Wyoming, where the Cowboys eerily chant "50-0" over and over again while they take the field. After a brief snowstorm that drops 14 inches of snow on the field, the game begins and Wyoming joyfully pays Utah back for its lopsided loss the season before. In a twist, Whittingham rips off his shoe and tries to one-up Glenn by giving him the One-Toed Salute. Glenn confusingly stares ahead.
After the game, Whittingham begins overturning everything in sight, foaming at the mouth and demanding the team "come together". They do and right there in the Memorial Stadium visitors' locker room the entire team sings We Are Family, which provides the annual late-season spark we have all become so familiar with.
Colorado State comes to town and Utah owns them. Brian Johnson may be making his return, possibly the defensive line, too. After the victory, Whittingham calls it a "turning point" in his coaching career, crediting embattled offensive coordinator Andy Ludwig for the resurgent offense, one that bumped their point total from 13 PPG to 15 PPG in a week!
Feeling the wind at their back, the Utes travel to New Mexico, where a meth lab explodes prior to kickoff, taking out half the Lobo offense. This provides Utah a chance at a solid victory and the Utes carry it through, defeating the meth-exposed Lobos. Booyah, and they say drugs are bad.
Winners of two straight, the Utes have an extra bounce in their step, which they would need against TCU. In a defensive struggle, one that would make Rick Majerus smile, Utah wins 2-0, as TCU quarterback Andy Dalton is sacked in the end zone as time expires. The low scoring game confuses many, as they mistake it for baseball. Because of this, Utah is awarded a victory for their baseball team...even before the season starts.
Whittingham protests, but it falls on deaf ears.
San Diego State is the Utes' next opponent. Except these guys are coached by Chuck Long and not Tom Craft, which guarantees Utah a win. After the game, Long is promptly fired on the spot and the Aztecs decide to go the Eddie route, hiring the Biggest San Diego State Fan in the Universe. The guy does not succeed.
Finally, the showdown to end all showdowns. Utah and BYU, with the Cougars heavily favored, meet in Salt Lake City. The Utes know their season pretty much ends after the final second ticks off the clock, so they have no pressure to win. Because of this, the game is insanely close, with each score being matched by the other team. The outcome comes down to the final minute of play.
With 50 seconds left, Utah scores a touchdown to take a 4-point lead. The crowd, though, realizes they've been here before and expect the exact same outcome. However, Whittingham has a trick up his sleeve.
He onside kicks it!
Holy $#!%, is he really going to do that?
YEAH! WHAT A GENIUS!
Except BYU recovers and scores on the very next play.
Good going, Whittingham.
In a matter of seconds, five dozen websites asking for Whittingham and Ludwig's heads flood the internet.
It's all a moot point, however, as Whittingham decides to leave Utah for Arizona after they fire Mike Stoops. Chris Hill replaces him with offensive coordinator Andy Ludwig.
At the news, a million Ute fans' heads explode.
Oh the humanity.