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Is winning out possible?

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I guess that question is a bit easy to answer because of course it's possible for the Utes to win out. 

Maybe I should ask if Utah will win out, but I don't want such a black and white answer. So we'll stay with the original question and focus on the potential of winning out. 

For starters, the Utes, according to Sagarin, have played the 8th toughest schedule in the country. Based on that alone, the fact they've played three programs that could contend for nine or ten wins this season, 2-3 doesn't seem like such an awful record. 

Of course, it's not that Utah lost, but how they lost and in that regard, a pessimistic outlook toward the season is to be expected. With the injuries, the second half meltdowns, the 0-3 conference record and still difficult road trips to Pitt, Cal, Arizona and Washington State on the horizon, it's not hard to foresee a losing season - maybe even the fewest wins this program has seen since the Ron McBride era imploded.

Even so, I can't help but go back to that 8th ranked schedule. It's bound to get easier solely because the competition is going to get easier. Right now, according to those Sagarin rankings, Utah has played the 13th (ASU), 30th (USC) and 36th (UDub) ranked teams. 

Those aren't staggering rankings, but when you realize, at the moment, they make up a bulk of the schedule, it does make a difference.

With that said, the schedule might seemingly ease up, but only slightly and not for a couple weeks. Pitt and Cal are ranked 43rd and 45th respectively, meaning that, by the time the Utes really reach the soft part of their schedule, they very well could be 2-5 on the season. I'm not sure, regardless of opponent, they come back from a four-game losing streak. 

So there is no doubt the schedule progressively gets easier from this point on and by the end of the season, Utah will have faced the 82nd ranked team (OSU), the 83rd (Arizona), 53rd (UCLA), 75th (Wazzu) and 100th (Colorado). But by then, it might be too late. 

Which means this Saturday might be the most important game of the season because a win not only bolsters confidence, it ends the free fall and positions the Utes for a late season run that puts them well on the path to a bowl game.

If they lose, however, and leave the east coast with a 2-4 record, facing an improved and difficult Cal team in San Francisco a week later, I don't think the season can be saved and Utah will probably finish a game or two below .500 - even with a weaker upcoming schedule.