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Five things to look for Saturday: Wyoming edition

How do you top a 68-27 win on the road against a BCS opponent? Well I'm not so sure you can. The Utes, however, will try to do just that this weekend as they travel to Laramie for one last conference game against the Wyoming Cowboys.

Though Utah easily won over the Cyclones, it wasn't perfect and there are things they can improve on this Saturday. So, what should Ute fans look for in week seven? 

Will Utah establish a killer instinct in the first quarter?

The Utes have massacred its opponents 101-7 in the second quarter, smothering each of their last four into submission rather easily. This week should be no different with who they face, however, can Utah finally jump on its opponent in the first quarter rather than waiting until the second? 

In their last four games, the Utes have held leads of zero (3-3), seven (7-0), four (7-3) and trailed by four (10-14) at the end of the first quarter. In each game, they erupted in the second and rolled to an easy victory. 

But against a team like Air Force or TCU, that slow start could mean they're facing a larger hole than they're used to entering the second quarter. 

Against Wyoming, I would like to see Utah jump on them quickly. I'm not asking for a 31-0 outburst, but a comfortable lead heading into the second, which the Utes have yet to have this season, would ease my mind just a bit. 

Were the turnovers last week just rust or more? 

It looked like the Utes had really figured out their turnover problem against the San Jose St. Spartans. However, in the first quarter Saturday, they had two which led to two touchdowns by the Cyclones. Obviously those turnovers didn't hurt Utah in the end, but if the Utes continue to play with fire, sooner or later, they will get burned.

Of course, it's possible those turnovers were nothing more than just rust, which would make sense since Utah had a bye week and sometimes it's difficult to get back into that game rhythm so early into the first quarter. 

Once Utah looked comfortable, their offense didn't turn over the ball the rest of the way and they appeared pretty fluid and disciplined. 

Hopefully it was rust and if that is the case, I expect no turnovers this week. But we'll see. 

Will Whittingham RUTS? 

While I don't think Kyle Whittingham will ever truly run up the score, I do believe it's possible he keeps things more aggressive and less conservative further into the game than he would have two years ago. This is a battle and Utah is losing right now. They scored 68 points against a BCS opponent on the road and they still dropped in the rankings. Granted, if you look at the entire context of their fall, you'd see they actually gained points and only fell because of the South Carolina/Alabama/LSU mess. 

They also stayed pat in the Coaches Poll, which is huge because that is used by the BCS. Though I have nothing to support this, it's possible their dominating victory kept them from falling in the Coaches Poll. 

So this week, I think the Utes will once again need a dominant performance to turn even more heads. Especially when you realize this is the only game where Utah, Boise State and TCU share a common opponent. 

That's important because rightfully or not, the media and coaches will look at this game as a comparison between all three teams. 

Boise beat Wyoming 51-6 and TCU beat them 45-0. That's exactly the same margin for both teams. 

So that means Utah will look to best the 45 point margin established by both the Frogs and Broncos. 

I'm not saying if they win 42-17 it will be a bad win or that it automatically mean they're less of a team than the other two. But it can't hurt to beat Wyoming 58-10 and win the margin wars by three points. 

Ideally, Utah scores and scores a lot, while also keeping the Cowboys out of the end zone.


I spoke about the offense, but what about the defense? After the game against Iowa State Saturday, Whittigham mentioned how the defense was a bit soft in the second half against the Cyclones. That happens, though, when you build a massive lead and you're playing second and third stringers. 

Of course, when you win 68-27, it doesn't much matter and most people understand it's hard to really shut a team down entirely throughout the course of the game, especially with a lopsided lead. 

With that said, Wyoming is not Iowa State. The Cyclones showed some offensive life in their win over Texas Tech a week prior to the Utah game and that is something the Cowboys have not shown at all this season. 

The most points they've scored against a FBS team was 20 in their win against Toledo. Against decent competition, Wyoming has scored a combined 27 points (against Texas, Boise State, Air Force and TCU) - that's less than Utah scored in the second quarter last Saturday. 

So the Cowboys should struggle moving the ball against the Utes. I'm not asking for a shutout, but it would be nice to get one (Utah hasn't recorded a shut out since 2007 - against, you guessed it, Wyoming).

Will Shaky Smithson continue to blow our minds?

Smithson had an amazing game against Iowa State and outside of the Pittsburgh game, has pretty much looked amazing the entire season. I expect that to continue this Saturday. I expect him to return a punt for a touchdown (or at least get Utah deep into Wyoming territory). Hell, I now even expect him to throw for a touchdown. 

He's doing it all and the most exciting player I've seen come through Utah since maybe Eric Weddle.