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Utah Football: 2014 Season Predictions

Finally, after a long nine months of no football, it's game week. That means it's time for the Block U staff to go on the record and call their shots for Utah Football's 2014 win/loss record.

No more football camp. No more shells. No more "thud" tackling. No more scrimmages. It's time for real, Power Five football and actual games!

Utah kicks off the 2014 season Thursday against the Idaho State University Bengals. After signing day, spring ball, fall camp, and a stabilized depth chart, it's time to go on the record and predict how well the 2014 Utes are going to do, coming off back-to-back losing seasons. All of our predictions are below in a chart, but since I didn't get to discuss my predictions on this episode of The U Fan Cast, I'm going to do that now.

Idaho State (August 28th): This is a win. Not much to say.

Fresno State (September 6th ): The Utes have proven to be a good home team, and the influx of talent is going to pay off against a team from the Mountain West trying to replace an NFL quarterback. Fresno has some playmakers, but Utah has many more, and they walk out with the win.

@Michigan (September 20th): The Utes return to "The Big House" in late September, where the 2008 Sugar Bowl season kicked off. Many people have overlooked the fact that Utah will be coming off an early BYE before they play Michigan. Michigan plays the previous week against Miami (OH), and the week before that Notre Dame. I like that combination for the Utes, two game films to watch and adjust to, while getting a little rest. Michigan will have to play a week prior (not to mention that I don't think teams in the B1G are very good right now), and I believe Utah's speed will play a big factor in a win in Ann Arbor.

Washington State (September 27th): Utah let last years game against WSU slip away, and two years prior, back here in SLC, Utah blitzed WSU. While WSU has Conner Holiday back and some good wide receivers, the Cougs are still building a defense, and Utah's revamped offense should be able to put plenty of points on the board. This will also be an opportunity for the retooled Utah secondary to prove themselves, especially with the return of Brian Blechen. Wazzu will be coming off a game against Oregon as well, so they may be a bit beat up physically and mentally. Utah wins big.

@UCLA (October 4th): Utah has played UCLA really tough the past couple of years and have had chances to beat the Bruins. This season Brett Hundley is back, and he has plenty of weapons. Additionally, UCLA's defense looks formidable, even without Anthony Barr. UCLA will be coming off a tough game at Arizona State the previous week, and that game is a Thursday night game, giving UCLA 10 days to get ready for the Utes. UCLA is my pick to win the Pac-12, and I think they'll beat the Utes in Pasadena.

@Oregon State (October 16th): Without Brandin Cooks, Oregon State will have a major hole to fill. Without Cooks, Oregon State needs to return to running the ball this season with Storm Woods. OSU will be coming off a BYE, just like Utah, and the week before that they take on Colorado, a setup that doesn't help the Utes out at all. Just like every other Beaver/Utes matchup, it will be too close to call, but I'm going with the Beavs in this one.

USC (October 25th): Steve Sarkisian marches the Trojans into Rice-Eccles in late October, with possible snowy conditions. USC is still lacking depth, due to the scholarship reductions, and Cody Kessler is a nice quarterback, but not a great quarterback. Being late in the season, USC's depth will likely be tested, especially at altitude. I also don't have a lot of faith in Sark, so with lack of depth, altitude, possible snow, Rice-Eccles crowd, and Sark, I'm taking the Utes at home.

@Arizona State (November 1st): Utah travels to Tempe to take on the Devils this season, and all Utes fans would love to forget the last trip to the desert. ASU is rebuilding their defense from scratch, so Utah will have plenty of opportunities to put points on the board. If the game was in Rice-Eccles, I'd probably take the Utes, but it's in Sun Devil Stadium, and the Utes last trip left a bad taste in my mouth. I'm taking the Devils.

Oregon (November 8th): Utah played Oregon as tough as anybody last year, and they welcome the Ducks into Rice-Eccles for the first time since 2003. Oregon will be coming off the big matchup with Stanford the week prior, so there could be an emotional hangover. While Utah is improved and Oregon isn't "Chip Kelly Oregon", the Ducks still have Marcus Mariotta and is still more talented overall, meaning they'll walk away from Utah with a win.

Stanford (November 15th): Stanford will be coming off a BYE after facing Oregon, and they will have plenty of time and motivation for the Utes coming into Palo Alto. Stanford's style plays right into Utah's hands, and Utah can walk away with a win, but with the Oregon game the week prior, and with Stanford being rested and zeroed in on the Utes, while at home, I can't pick the Utes to win this one.

Arizona (November 22nd): Arizona is replacing both a quarterback and running back Ka'deem Carey. The quarterback is easily replaced for the Wildcats, but Carey is not. The offense, while it should still be good for the U of A, won't have the stud that they've had the last couple of years. Also, Arizona's defense is still a work in progress, and since it's at Rice-Eccles in late November, I really like the home teams chances. Utah wins going away.

Colorado (November 29th): Colorado will be coming home from a trip to Eugene to match up with the Utes. Combine the Buffs licking their wounds with the fact that CU still has a long ways to go to rebuild that roster, I don't see them beating Utah. They may be improving, but not enough to overtake the Utes in this one.

There you have it, I have Utah going 7-5 and returning to a bowl. I could be convinced to go as high as 8-4, with a couple swing games on this schedule.

I also believe that this is the year that the averages swing back into Utah's favor. At some point, the Utes will have a complete season with a starting QB. If that would have been the case last season, 5-7 would likely have been 7-5. Also, I don't see three interceptions happening again this season, that is a statistical anomaly. Utah will be better, and somebody has to fall back, and I think Arizona and Arizona State may be the ones to do that.

Regardless, let's all sit back and enjoy the fact that football is back! In preparation for the season opener, give a listen to the latest episode of The U Fan Cast to hear much more discussion around our predictions for the 2014 season!

Opponent Steven Adia Alex Shane
ISU W W W W
Fresno St W W W W
@Michigan L W L W
Washington St W W W W
@UCLA L L L L
@Oregon St L L L L
USC W L W W
@Arizona St L L L L
Oregon W L L L
@Stanford L W L L
Arizona W L L W
@Colorado W W W W
Overall 7-5 6-6 5-7 7-5