Utah is coming off of an 11 win season in 2019, and according to ESPN’s FPI, they think 11 wins could be possible again in 2020. Of course, FPI can be volatile at times, but it is an interesting metric to look at, especially when you consider the Utes are reloading across the board on defense, are replacing a starting QB, and the best running back in school history.
Here’s a quick refresher on FPI:
FPI is a predictive rating system designed to measure team strength and project performance going forward. The ultimate goal of FPI is not to rank teams 1 through 128; rather, it is to correctly predict games and season outcomes. If Vegas ever published the power rankings it uses to set its lines, they would likely look quite a lot like FPI.
Here’s how ESPN breaks down how the Utes could do in 2020:
BYU (Win 85.7%)
Montana State (Win 97.2%)
at Wyoming (Win 71%)
at Cal (Win 52.5%)
USC (Loss 60.9%)
at Washington State (Win 68.9%)
Washington (Win 63.7%)
at UCLA (Win 64%)
Arizona (Win 82.5%)
Oregon Sate (Win 85.7%)
at Arizona State (Win 63%)
at Colorado (Win 76.3%)
Now, 2020 is going to be such a unique season, given I don’t think we’ll see fans in some stadiums, or at least full stadiums, but if we were going into the season assuming that all things were going to be normal, that’s some lofty expectations. I think a win at Cal is going to be tough. I also think that prediction at ASU is high, especially with it being on the road. ASU’s offensive line was terrible last year, so that’s probably why that is where it’s at. A loss to USC at Rice-Eccles, I’m not sure I’d put it at almost 61%, but I think that could be a 50/50 type of game.
If Utah goes 11-1 again in the regular season, then they’re back playing for a conference title, assuming USC doesn’t win out in the league.
When you step back and think about this team, however, they should be battling for a division title. Sure, the defense loses a lot, but when has a Kyle Whittingham defense not reloaded? This may be the youngest defense that the Utes have ever had, but I think they’ll be ready come conference season. They won’t be near as good as the 2019 defense, but very few are. On offense, there are some great building blocks. The running back group is strong, as are the wideouts and tight ends. There is talent at QB, with Rising and Bentley, so I think we’ll get solid play out of that spot. The question comes down to the offensive line, which is largely returning in 2020. If they take a step forward in 2020, the offense shouldn’t miss too much of a beat.
Curious how FPI did for Utah in 2019? They picked 11 of the 12 regular season games right. The one miss? They picked UW to beat the Utes in Seattle.
What are your thoughts on what FPI thinks of the Utes, assuming we will have a normal college football season?