Way-Too-Early Look At Utah’s 2020 Football Schedule

Dec 31, 2019, 9:52 PM
(Photo courtesy of Getty Images)...
(Photo courtesy of Getty Images)
(Photo courtesy of Getty Images)

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – The Utes finished the 2019 season with an 11-3 record after falling to the Texas Longhorns in the Alamo Bowl.

The conference schedule from 2019 will be similar to 2020 with the same opponents but different venues, while the non-conference features a rival, an FCS team and a former Mountain West Conference foe.

Now that the 2019 season is officially over, let’s take a look at the 2020 schedule for the Utes.

Sept. 5 vs. BYU Cougars

BYU finished the 2019 season with a 7-6 record after losing to Hawaii in the Hawaii Bowl. Utah has won nine straight games over the Cougars after their 30-12 victory in Provo in the season opener this year.

The Cougars will return starting quarterback Zach Wilson, who will enter his junior year. He will have some quarterback competition leading up to the 2020 season opener at Rice-Eccles Stadium as incoming sophomore Baylor Romney will battle for the starting job.

They lost running backs Emmanuel Esukpa and Ty’Son Williams but will bring back Sione Finau and Lopini Katoa. Also, star tight end Matt Bushman decided to return for his senior season rather than entering the NFL Draft.

Key departures on the BYU defense is defensive lineman J.J. Nwigwe, defensive backs Dayan Ghanwoloku and Austin Lee.

Sept. 12 vs. Montana State Bobcats

This will be Utah’s one non-conference opponent that is an FCS program. It will mark the fourth time that the Utes and Bobcats will square off. The last time was in 1937. Utah has won all three meetings, outscoring the Bobcats 127-7.

Montana State ended the 2019 season with an 11-4 record and a 6-2 mark in Big Sky Conference play. Their four losses came against Texas Tech, Sacramento State, North Dakota, and No. 1 North Dakota State in the semifinals of the FCS Playoffs.

Sept. 19 at Wyoming Cowboys

Utah will face their former Mountain West Conference foe Wyoming Cowboys for the first time since joining the Pac-12. It begins a home-and-home series with Wyoming that will begin in Laramie in 2020 with the return trip to Salt Lake City taking place in 2025. This game will mark the 82nd meeting between the two schools. Utah leads the all-time series 49-31-1.

The Cowboys are 7-5 on the season and finished conference play with a 4-4 record. They lost to Tulsa, San Diego State, Boise State, Utah State and Air Force.

Wyoming will return their two quarterbacks who played most of the season in incoming junior Tyler Vander Waal and sophomore Sean Chambers. Their leading rusher Xazavian Valladay will be back as a junior after racking up over 1,000 yards.

The Cowboys lose their two top defensive players in safety Alijah Halliburton and linebacker Logan Wilson.

Road at Arizona State Sun Devils

The Utes knocked off then-No. 17 Arizona State at Rice-Eccles Stadium 21-3 in 2018. Since joining the Pac-12, Utah is 3-6 against the Sun Devils and 1-3 in Tempe, Arizona. Arizona State owns the all-time series against Utah, 22-9.

This season, the Sun Devils entered the game against Utah with a 5-1 record. After losing to the Utes, they lost four straight before finishing the 2019 season with two straight wins. Arizona State held a 7-5 overall record and a 4-5 mark in the Pac-12.

True freshman standout quarterback Jayden Daniels will be back for his sophomore season but the Sun Devils will need to replace their top two targets on offense with both running back Eno Benjamin and wide receiver Brandon Aiyuk forgoing their senior seasons and declaring for the NFL Draft.

They had some changes on their coaching staff with defensive coordinator Danny Gonzales taking over as the head coach at New Mexico.

Home vs. Arizona Wildcats

Utah took care of Arizona in Tuscon in 2019 by a final score of 35-7. Since joining the Pac-12, Utah is 5-4 against the Wildcats and are 2-2 at home. All-time, Utah leads the series against Arizona 22-19-2.

The Wildcats return a quarterback who has potential to take the program to the next level in incoming sophomore Grant Gunnell, but will lose star running back J.J. Taylor after he declared for the upcoming NFL Draft.

Stud linebacker Colin Schooler is back for his senior season, along with Tony Fields.

For the second straight season, the Wildcats did not qualify for a bowl game. Arizona finished the 2019 season with a 4-8 record and 2-7 in conference play. They started the season winning four of their first five games before losing their last seven.

Road at California Golden Bears

The Utes shutout the Golden Bears at home in 2019 with a 35-0 victory. The Utes are 6-6 all-time against Cal and are 3-2 as conference foes, including an 0-2 record in Berkeley.

Cal finished this season with an 8-5 record and 4-5 in Pac-12 play after beating Illinois in the Redbox Bowl. They started the season 4-0 before losing four straight. The Golden Bears finished the season winning four of their last five games.

The Bears will bring back quarterback Chase Garbers for his junior campaign, along with running back Christopher Brown Jr. Their star linebacker Evan Weaver will not be back after completing his senior season, but will get one more year with Kuony Deng.

Road at Colorado Buffaloes

Utah beat Colorado 45-15 in their regular season finale at Rice-Eccles Stadium. The win for Utah gave them the all-time series lead against the Buffs, 31-30-3. Since joining the Pac-12, Utah is 7-2 against Colorado and are 3-1 in Boulder.

The Buffaloes didn’t reach a bowl game this season after ending the season with a 5-7 overall record and 3-6 in the Pac-12. They started the season winning three of their first four games before losing five straight games. Colorado ended the season winning two of their last three games.

Colorado will lose starting quarterback Steven Montez to graduation and star wide receiver Laviska Shenault Jr. to early entry in the NFL Draft. They will return starting running back Alex Fontenot.

Home vs. Oregon State Beavers

The Utes blew out the Beavers this season after a 52-7 win in Corvallis. All-time, Oregon State leads the series against the Utes, 11-10-1. As conference opponents, Utah is 5-2 and 2-1 at home.

It was a much improved season for Oregon State, finishing with a 5-7 record and 4-5 in conference play. They lost three of their first four games before winning three of their next four. The Beavers finished the season losing three of their last four.

Oregon State will have a quarterback battle to solve during the off-season after the graduation of Jake Luton. Running back Artavis Pierce is gone but Jermar Jefferson will be back for his junior season. Also, star wide receiver Isaiah Hodgins will skip his senior campaign and will enter the upcoming NFL Draft.

Road at UCLA Bruins

Utah stomped on the Bruins in Salt Lake City with a 49-3 victory this season. The Utes are 6-3 against UCLA as conference opponents, including a 3-1 record in Pasadena. UCLA leads the all-time series against Utah 11-7.

It was another tough season for the Bruins, finishing the second year of the Chip Kelly era with a 4-8 record and 4-5 in conference play. They lost five of their first six games before winning three straight and ending the season losing three straight.

Quarterback Dorian Thompson-Robinson will return for his junior season. Running back Joshua Kelley is graduating but the Bruins have some promising prospects in Demetric Felton and Kyle Philips.

Home vs. USC Trojans

Utah’s only loss during the regular season came against the Trojans in the Coliseum, 30-23. USC leads the all-time series against the Utes, 10-4 and are 6-3 against Utah as Pac-12 foes, but the Utes are 3-1 against the Trojans at Rice-Eccles Stadium.

USC had another disappointing season to their standards, ending with an 8-5 record and 7-2 in Pac-12 play. The new Athletic Director decided to retain head coach Clay Helton but they fired their tight ends coach and the defensive coordinator. USC’s only losses were against BYU in overtime, Washington, Notre Dame, Oregon and Iowa in the Holiday Bowl.

The Trojans will have controversy at the quarterback position with the original starter J.T. Daniels back from injury but with the emergence of Pac-12 Freshman of the Year Kedon Slovis, the coaching staff will have a tough competition on their hands to determine the starting QB.

They will get both running backs Vavae Malepeai and Stephen Carr for their senior seasons. One of their three-headed monsters at the wide receiver position will be gone as Michael Pittman Jr. has graduated. Tyler Vaughns has not announced if he will skip his senior season or return, but Amon-Ra St. Brown is back for his junior season.

Home vs. Washington Huskies

The Utes beat the Huskies in Seattle this season, 33-28. Washington holds a 12-2 record against Utah all-time. As Pac-12 opponents, Utah is 2-6 against the Huskies and 0-3 in Salt Lake City.

It was an unusually disappointing season for Washington. They finished the season with an 8-5 record after beating No. 19 Boise State in the Las Vegas Bowl. Washington had a 4-5 record in conference play. Head coach Chris Peterson decided to resign after the season and defensive coordinator Jimmy Lake is now the head coach of the Huskies.

Quarterback Jacob Eason has declared for the NFL Draft rather than returning for his senior season. Running backs Salvon Ahmed, Richard Newton and Sean McGrew are all back next season. Tight end Hunter Bryant has also entered the NFL Draft early and top wide receiver Aaron Fuller will graduate. On the defensive side of the ball, defensive back Elijah Holden will be back as a senior next season, but Myles Bryant will not be back. They do have the No. 1 ranked recruiting class coming in to 2020.

Road at Washington State Cougars

Utah knocked off the Cougars, 38-13 at Rice-Eccles Stadium this season. Washington State is 9-8 over the Utes all-time, as conference opponents, Utah is 3-4 against Washington State and are 1-2 in Pullman, Washington.

The Cougars had a bad season, but still managed to get to a bowl game. They lost to Air Force in the Cheez-It Bowl to end their season with a 6-7 record and 3-6 in the Pac-12. They won their first three games to start the season before losing their next three. Washington State won just three of their last seven games to end the season.

Quarterback Anthony Gordon will graduate, but running back Max Borghi will return for his junior season. Their air-raid offense will lose the top three wide receivers with Dezmon Patmon, Brandon Arconado and Easop Winston Jr. all graduating.

The Crimson Corner podcast is the one-stop for all things University of Utah Athletics hosted by Utah insider Trevor Allen. Ute fans will find interviews with current players, coaches, and staff alongside expert analysis of every game, story and angle coming out of the University of Utah.

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