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Dr. Saturday takes an early look at Utah's 2011 season

We're almost to the point where preseason predictions are going to dominate the next few months. With this being Utah's first year in the Pac-12, I expect more attention to be given to the Utah football program. Fair or not, often the national media tends to gloss over the non-BCS conferences and that will no longer be an issue for the Utes.

Thursday, Dr. Saturday took a look at Utah's upcoming season and had a nice breakdown of what to kind of expect. 

It's worth the read. Especially since it's fairly positive - especially the best case scenario: 

The passing game takes off under Chow; veteran front seven keeps the defense in the top 25 against the run; Utes take advantage of a schedule that misses and Oregon and Stanfordand brings WashingtonArizona StateOregon StateUCLA and Colorado to Salt Lake City. 9-3, Big 12 South champs, Holiday Bowl. 

Though it should be noted that Utah is not in the Big 12. And if they are Pac-12 South champs, who's to say they're not good enough to upset Oregon/Stanford in the Pac-12 title game? I think it's entirely possible.

Even so, 9-3 and a trip to the Holiday Bowl (fun fact, Utah's never been to the Holiday Bowl, even though the WAC had it as its bowl tie-in for years) would be a pretty damn good start to the BCS era for the program. 

So what's the worst case scenario? It's actually one that I don't think is entirely bad. 

Jordan Wynn struggles, the running game stagnates behind partially rebuilt line; the entirely new secondary fails to come together; week-in/week-out grind of the Pac-12 slate is a steeper step up in class than expected. 6-6, back in the Maaco Las Vegas Bowl. 

6-6 wouldn't be ideal, but think about the situation they find themselves in now. In the Mountain West, the Las Vegas Bowl is the highest bowl tie-in offered by the conference. Unless you're playing for the BCS, chances are a berth to Vegas means you've won the conference.

Yet in this scenario, Utah, with a 6-6 record, is now playing in a bowl game designated, most years anyway, for the best Mountain West team. 

Not bad.

Realistically, I see Utah probably coming close to the best case scenario. But the success of the season, in my view, will come down to what they do against SC, Arizona State and Arizona. Those are probably the three most important games of the season.