A Way-Too-Early Look At Utah’s 2019 Season
SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – Despite losing in their bowl game for the first time since 2010, Utah had a very successful football season.
They won the Pac-12 South Division for the first time since joining the conference in 2011 but fell short of a conference championship with a 10-3 loss to Washington.
Utah had to overcome injuries to quarterback Tyler Huntley and running back Zack Moss, who missed the last five games of the season, including the Pac-12 Championship game and the Holiday Bowl.
The Utes had to rely on redshirt freshman quarterback Jason Shelley and junior running back Armand Shyne that helped the team win three in a row before the Washington rematch.
The 2019 season sets up nicely with Utah returning four juniors that could’ve jumped to the NFL but decided to stay for their senior campaign.
They will play their rival to open the season, the MAC Champions and an FCS opponent in their non-conference. The two teams that the Utes won’t play in their Pac-12 schedule is Oregon and Stanford.
Here is a look at Utah’s 2019 schedule:
BYU, Away, August 29
After facing each other in the final week of the regular season, the Holy War rivalry will be renewed to open the 2019 season.
This past season, BYU had a 20-point lead in the third quarter before the Utes stormed back with 28 unanswered points to win the game 35-27.
Utah has won the last eight games against the Cougars, including three straight wins in Provo and lead the all-time series 58-31-4. The Utes are 5-3 at LaVell Edwards Stadium since 2000.
The Cougars finished the 2018 season with a 7-6 record and beat Western Michigan 49-18 in the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl. They return quarterback Zach Wilson after a stellar freshman season and will also have running back Lopini Katoa back in 2019.
Northern Illinois, Home, September 7
This upcoming season will be the second meeting between Utah and Northern Illinois. The Utes beat the Huskies in Dekalb, Illinois in 2018 with a 17-6 win. Utah had to rely on their defense to seal the win as Chase Hansen ran in an interception for a touchdown.
Northern Illinois ended their 2018 season with an 8-6 record, including a 30-29 win over Buffalo in the MAC Championship game. They lost to UAB in the Boca Raton Bowl 37-13.
Quarterback Marcus Childers will be back for his junior season after throwing for 1,996 yards this past season. After rushing for a team-high 985 yards in 2018, Tre Harbison will return for his junior year.
The Huskies will have their top tackler Antonio Jones-Davis as well as sack leader Sutton Smith back for the 2019 season.
Idaho State, Home, September 14
The last time that the Utes and Bengals faced each other was in 1944 when they played each other twice. Utah won both meetings with a 24-0 win at home and a 38-12 victory in Pocatello, Idaho.
Idaho State had a 6-5 record this past season with losses to California and Liberty in FBS and UC Davis, Cal Poly and Weber State in Big Sky action.
Their starting quarterback will graduate and will need to find a new starter for the 2019 season, but bring back Ty Flanagan for his senior season.
Utah head coach Kyle Whittingham was the linebacker coach and special teams coordinator for Idaho State from 1988-91 and the defensive coordinator from 1992-93. Idaho State’s defensive line coach Steve Fifita played for the Utes from 2001-05 where he was an All-Mountain West Conference performer and was named Defensive MVP of the 2004 Fiesta Bowl.
USC, Away, September 20
It has been back and forth every season between the Utes and Trojans. Utah picked up a 41-28 win at home in 2018 but USC won 28-27 in Los Angeles in 2017. USC leads the all-time series 9-4 but since Utah joined the Pac-12, the Trojans are 5-3.
USC finished the 2018 season with a 5-7 record and did not play in a bowl game for the first time since 2011 when they had to miss a bowl game due to the Reggie Bush sanctions.
They will bring back quarterback J.T. Daniels for his sophomore season and running back Stephen Carr will be a junior next season, while potentially having dangerous wide receivers including Orem High School star Puka Nacua.
Washington State, Home, September 28
The Utes have struggled against Washington State, having lost the last four meetings with the Cougars, including a 28-24 win in Pullman in 2018. Since joining the Pac-12, Washington State is 4-2 with Utah winning the first two games in 2011 and 2012 before the Cougars went on the current winning streak.
Washington State won a school record 11 games this past season including a 28-26 win over Iowa State in the Alamo Bowl. They finished the season ranked No. 10 in the final AP Poll.
Star quarterback Gardner Minshew will graduate and head coach Mike Leach will need to find a new starting quarterback. Running back James Williams will be back for his senior season as well as wide receiver Desmon Patmon.
Oregon State, Away, October 12
Utah did not play the Beavers the last two seasons and will face them in 2019 as they are in the middle of a rebuild. The Utes have won the last three games against Oregon State, including four of the last six since joining the Pac-12.
The Beavers won just two games in 2018 against Southern Utah and Colorado. But they have a lot of talented players returning next season including quarterback Conor Blount, who threw for 1,117 yards and 7 touchdowns. Running back Jermar Jefferson will be back after a fantastic freshman season where he racked up 1,380 yards and 12 touchdowns.
Arizona State, Home, October 19
The Sun Devils have had Utah’s number since the two teams began playing each other in 1961. Arizona State is 22-8 against the Utes all-time and 6-2 since Utah joined the Pac-12 Conference. The Sun Devils beat Utah at home in 2018 with a 38-20 victory.
Arizona State finished last season with a 7-6 record, including a 31-20 loss to No. 21 Fresno State in the Las Vegas Bowl.
The Sun Devils will need to reload on offense with quarterback Manny Wilkins graduating and wide receiver N’Keal Harry going to the NFL Draft, skipping his senior season.
They will rely on running back Eno Benjamin next season who rushed for 1,524 yards in his sophomore year.
California, Home, October 26
The Utes are 2-2 against the Golden Bears since they joined the conference but they didn’t play each other the last two seasons. Cal won the previous meeting in 2016 with a 28-23 victory at home.
The Golden Bears had a 7-6 record this season, including a 10-7 overtime loss to TCU in the Cheez-It Bowl.
They used two quarterbacks and both will return next season in Chase Garbers and Ross Bowers.
Washington, Away, November 2
Utah had two chances to beat the Huskies in 2018 and couldn’t get it done. Washington won the regular season matchup in Salt Lake City 21-7 and won the Pac-12 Championship with a 10-3 victory.
The Utes are 1-12 against Washington all-time including a 1-6 record since joining the Pac-12. The Huskies have won four straight games.
Washington will need to reload with the departures of quarterback Jake Browning, running back Myles Gaskin as well as leading tackler Ben Burr-Kirven and defensive back Byron Murphy who will enter the NFL Draft.
UCLA, Home, November 16
Utah has had recent success against UCLA, winning the last three and four of the last five meetings. All-time, the Bruins are 11-6 but the Utes are 5-3 since joining the conference.
It was a tough 2018 season for UCLA under Chip Kelly in his first season as head coach, the Bruins finished with a 3-9 record.
They will have quarterback Dorian Thompson-Robinson back for his sophomore season after throwing for 1,311 yards and 7 touchdowns. Running back Joshua Kelley will return for his senior season after rushing for 1,243 yards during his junior year.
Arizona, Away, November 23
The Utes have won the last three games against the Wildcats, including a dominating 42-10 win in Salt Lake City in 2018. Utah is 4-4 against Arizona since joining the Pac-12 and 2-2 in Tucson.
Arizona had a 5-7 season in 2018 and might need to find a new starting quarterback if Khalil Tate decides to leave the program. Stud running back J.J. Taylor will be back for his junior season after rushing for 1,434 yards and 6 touchdowns.
Colorado, Home, November 30
Utah won a snowy football game in Boulder this past season with a 30-7 victory. The two teams’ all-time series is tied at 30 wins apiece and 3 ties. The Utes have won the last two and are 6-2 against the Buffs since both schools joined the Pac-12.
It was a strange 2018 season for Colorado, they won their first five games before losing their next seven games. They fired their head coach Mike MacIntyre and brought in Georgia defensive coordinator Mel Tucker to be the next head coach.
The 2019 season should be better for Colorado with quarterback Steven Montez returning for his senior season after throwing for 2,849 yards and 19 touchdowns last season. They will also be getting star wide receiver Laviska Shenault Jr. back for his junior year after racking up 1,011 receiving yards.
Utah will have two bye weeks in 2019 with the first one on October 5 after the Washington State game, before the Oregon State matchup.
The second bye week will be on November 9 after the Washington game, before the UCLA contest.
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