Here Are The Most Important Games On Utah’s Schedule
SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – Every team on Utah’s schedule is going to give them their best shot – from the opener against BYU followed by Idaho State of the FCS. Those teams would want nothing more than to pull off an Appalachian State style upset. Not to mention every Pac-12 opponent since the Utes were selected as the preseason champions they likely have a target on their backs.
This is new territory for head coach Kyle Whittingham and the Utes who would rather be the kid in the corner of a party, mostly unnoticed the night but then surprises everyone with their dance moves and gets a standing ovation. Now they are expected to be the star of the show and perform at a high level every week.
Utah’s Biggest Challenges
KSL’s Unrivaled duo of Scott Mitchell and Alex Kirry each pinpointed two games that are the most important for Utah. Neither of them picked the BYU game as a roadblock for Utah.
USC is the common game between the two. The Utes have never defeated the Trojans at the L.A. Coliseum.
Since joining the Pac-12, Utah has a record of 3-5 against USC.
“In order to go the Rose Bowl or Pac-12 Championship, you have to win the South and no team has won the South unless they beat USC. So winning the South always goes through USC, it just does. It has been proven that the team that wins the South always beats USC, every year it happens that way,” Mitchell said on KSL’s Unrivaled. “It is important because it is the first conference game, first road game – one of few road games – and typically you can get USC early in the season compared to later on.”
The other games on Utah’s schedule that could be an issue are the two Arizona schools, at least one between the Wildcats and Sun Devils seem to trip up the Utes each year, but Mitchell goes with Washington State who comes to Rice-Eccles Stadium on September 28.
“It is Washington State at home. I look at Utah’s home schedule and I think of all of the home opponents, which there are seven of them, I think Washington State is actually the best team they play,” Mitchell said. “The style of play gives Utah fits it is a challenge. Mike Leech is in Kyle Whittingham’s head and he likes it. So, I think that is the hardest game and Utah has a lot of problems with Washington State.”
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Kirry’s second pick differed from Mitchell. He considered two teams: co-Pac-12 North preseason pick Washington or Arizona State who beat the Utes in Tempe last year.
“Going up to Seattle and winning in that venue against Washington and this is one of those places that will be packed. Husky Stadium is an amazing place to play, Chris Petersen will have an amazing team, they are one of the favorites in the North, and they have this five-star guy at quarterback that we do not know much about in Jacob Easson but Utah can send a message,” Kirry said. “Out of all of the teams that Utah is favored to beat and are slated to go 11-1 the one loss they have is against Washington. That is the one game everyone looks at goes, ‘you’ll probably lose that game.'”
These games pose the biggest threat to Utah this season, according to KSL’s Unrivaled, but as cliché as it sounds, the Utes need to be focused on every team they lineup against this fall if they are going to live up to the lofty preseason expectations.