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Utah Football 2014: Best Case Scenario

Our red goggles, totally optimistic look at how the 2014 Utah football season might play out.

Utah head football coach Kyle Whittingham will have a lot more happy handshakes this season if our "best case scenario" holds out.
Utah head football coach Kyle Whittingham will have a lot more happy handshakes this season if our "best case scenario" holds out.
Russ Isabella-USA TODAY Sports

This is not meant as a prediction for what will happen this season. It is a piece examining what could happen if everything went right for Utah, if all of the question marks heading into the season had positive answers, if every ball bounced Utah’s way, if all the stars align, and if Utah’s string of bad luck pulled a total 180.

Before the season, the MUSS calls a meeting and tells all of the members of the MUSS to show up before kickoff to build the atmosphere for the game. Fall camp goes really well with no injuries. Travis Wilson plays great football, leaving no doubt in anyone’s mind that he is the starting quarterback. Kendal Thompson plays well also, so special formations are created to take advantage of his athletic ability. Gionni Paul and Jacoby Hale make miraculous recoveries and participate in the end of fall camp and appear fully healthy.

Utah starts the season out strong with a 77-0 rout of Idaho State. They follow up that win with a dominant 45-10 win over Fresno State. They are set to take on #19 Michigan (3-0). Michigan has 14-0 at halftime. Coach Whittingham gives a fiery speech to rally the team. Utah opens the third quarter with a 39-yard Andy Phillips field goal. On Michigan’s next possession, Nate Orchard runs untouched and sacks Devin Gardner forcing a fumble that Orchard recovers and returns for a touchdown, cutting the Michigan lead to 14-10. Utah again scores with an Andy Phillips field goal. The defense is in Gardner’s face the entire second half, causing Michigan to struggle to move the ball. Utah finally takes the lead when Kaelin Clay takes a screen pass from Wilson 45 yards for a touchdown. Devontae Booker adds a touchdown late in the fourth quarter to seal the win 27-14.

Utah returns home to Salt Lake and blows out WSU (3-1) at home 52-10. This win marks the first time that Utah has a winning record in the Pac-12. Utah is set for their match up next week with  #6 UCLA Bruins (4-0). It is clear that UCLA is thinking ahead to Oregon at the start of the game. They come out flat and sloppy, allowing Utah to take a 14-0 lead at the end of the first quarter. UCLA battles back to take a 21-17 halftime lead. ULCA opens the third quarter with another scoring drive, adding a field goal. With the score tied at 31, UCLA is driving to get the win, until Orchard sacks Hundley, forcing UCLA to punt. Utah gets the ball on their 7-yard line with 1:00 left. On third down, Wilson off to Booker, but he pitches it back to Wilson, it is a flea flicker! Dres is running wide opening down the left sideline. Wilson connects with Dres for a 93-yard game-winning touchdown! The entire crowd at the Rose Bowl is stunned. Dres finishes the game with 287 yards receiving and four touchdowns.

Utah, 5-0, jumps up to #15 in the polls following the win over UCLA, the first time they have been ranked since 2010. They now have a week and a half to prepare for their Thursday night showdown with the 4-1 Beavers in Corvallis.

Still high off their win over UCLA, Utah does not look prepared for OSU. Mannion plays a fantastic game, leading to a 41-38 OSU win. Utah falls to #22 in the polls following the loss to the Beavers. Things are going well for the team though, they are 5-1, and Dres is leading the nation in receiving yards and yards per reception. Wilson has thrown only two interceptions, and Booker looks to be the feature back Utah missed last year. Next up, #15 USC (6-1) who has played great football since falling to Stanford in triple overtime in week two, winning five straight by an average of 28 points.

On a snowy night in late October, Utah and USC both start slow, with neither team scoring in the first quarter. Both quarterbacks have been under heavy pressure. Leonard Williams sacked Wilson twice, and Orchard, Hale, and Paul all sacked Kessler once. In the second quarter, Cody Kessler is intercepted by Davion Orphey, leading to a 39-yard Andy Phillips field goal. Utah takes their 3-0 lead into halftime. Kaelin Clay opens the third quarter with a kickoff return to the 50-yard line. Wilson connects with Anderson for 38-yards; McCormick scores on the next play, giving Utah a 10-0 lead. Entering the fourth quarter, Utah has a 13-0 lead. USC’s only score happens on a 68-yard punt return for a touchdown by Nelson Agholor halfway through the fourth quarter. The Utah offense struggles to move the ball, but the defense holds USC to 19 total yards in the fourth quarter, and Utah wins 13-7.

Utah moves back up to #14 in the polls following the win over USC. Utah is set to take on the Sun Devils (3-4) in Tempe. Utah comes into the game looking for revenge, which is exactly what they get with a 59-21 win. Utah (7-1) moves up to #11 in the polls. Gameday is set to come to Rice-Eccles for Utah’s showdown with the undefeated, #1 Oregon Ducks. In a surprisingly defensive first quarter, the only score comes on a Kaelin Clay punt return touchdown. The Ducks score two touchdowns rushing in the second quarter to take a 14-7 halftime lead. Oregon adds a field goal in the third quarter to take a 17-7 lead. Utah ties the game up in the fourth quarter with 1:38 to go, just enough time for Mariota to lead Oregon on a touchdown drive capped by a Byron Marshall touchdown run with 0:01 to go.

Following the heartbreaking loss to the Ducks, it is clear Utah is physically exhausted, getting dominated by #13 Stanford (7-2) 24-7. Utah easily handles their last two games of the year against Arizona and Colorado, winning 38-17 and 45-10 respectively, finishing the year 9-3, ranked #14. Dres Anderson wins the Biletnikoff Award, Tom Hackett wins the Ray Guy Award, and Andy Phillips wins the Lou Groza Award. Utah takes BYU in the Miami Beach Bowl and blows them out 54-10. Osa Masina, Porter Gustin, and Andre James all decide to commit to Utah on National Signing Day. BYU is given a four-year bowl ban for illegally recruiting missionaries.

What is your best case scenario? Agree with us? Disagree?