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Potential Conference-Only Schedule Options For Utah Football

Utah Utes running back TJ Green (4) celebrates with offensive lineman Orlando Umana (50) after Green ran for a touchdown, putting the Utes up 35-0 after the PAT, during the game against the Arizona Wildcats at Arizona Stadium in Tucson, Arizona on Saturday, Nov. 23, 2019. (Courtesy of Deseret News)

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – The Utah football program had their three non-conference games canceled after the Pac-12 announced that they will be having a conference-only schedule for the 2020 football season.

Utah’s games against BYU, Wyoming and Montana State were canceled.

In their release sent out on Friday, the Pac-12 said they will have schedule details out no later than July 31.

Without the non-conference games, here is Utah’s conference schedule as of July 14.

  • September 26 at California
  • October 2 vs. USC
  • October 10 at Washington State
  • October 17 vs. Washington
  • October 29 at UCLA
  • November 7 vs. Arizona
  • November 14 vs. Oregon State
  • November 21 at Arizona State
  • November 28 at Colorado

Here are some potential options for the Utes and their football schedule this season.

5-Game Schedule

To me, this is a worst case scenario and hope it doesn’t come to this but it’s a possibility. Utah could play just the five other teams in their division, including USC, UCLA, Arizona, Arizona State and Colorado. Then the winner of the division would play for the Pac-12 Championship against the winner of the North division.

I have a hard time seeing the Pac-12 doing a season this short but it’s not out of the realm of possibilities.

9-Game Schedule

If the conference decides to play a nine-game schedule, then Utah’s slate could stay the way it is with the season starting at the end of September. The bye week is currently scheduled for the week of October 18, after the Washington game and before the UCLA clash.

In this schedule, Utah would not play Oregon or Stanford. The traditional nine-game schedule has Utah playing every Pac-12 South team every season. They would play four teams from the North Division with two teams off of the schedule for two years. This would be the second year that Oregon and Stanford would not play Utah. If all goes back to normal in 2021, the Ducks and Cardinal will appear on Utah’s schedule and two other Pac-12 North programs would not play the Utes for two years.

10-Game Schedule

The Pac-12 could make a schedule that includes 10-games which Utah would play the teams above and add either Oregon or Stanford. Now, whether that is a home game or a road game would be up to the conference.

For reference, Utah’s last game against Stanford was played in Salt Lake City in 2017 on October 7. Utah lost that game by three points. Their last matchup with Oregon in the regular season was at Autzen Stadium in 2017 on October 28. The Utes lost by 21 points. My guess is that if the Pac-12 would add one game to the schedule, they would have either Utah at Stanford or Oregon at Utah depending on which team they would add to Utah’s schedule.

Another option – but I think is highly unlikely – is Utah playing every division team twice and not play any of the North division teams until the Pac-12 Championship game.

11-Game Schedule

This would mean that Utah would play every team in the Pac-12. Stanford and Oregon would be added to Utah’s slate of games and very well could have Oregon coming to Rice-Eccles Stadium and Utah at Stanford.

This would just reduce Utah’s normal regular season schedule by one game but we would find out who the champion of the conference is after every school played each other.

How Many Weeks?

This is going to be the key to everything. How many weeks will they stretch the season in order to get the games in and done in a safe manner? I have to think that the Pac-12 will want some flex weeks at the end of the season to play games that might get pushed because of a spike in case numbers in that program’s state.

For example, Utah and Cal don’t play their originally scheduled game but they wait until the back have of the season where no games are scheduled for circumstances like this. Game still gets played, just at a later time and it is done safely. I would guess that the league will want to add at least three weeks to the end of the season as a “flex period.” So, a 9-game schedule will be played over the course of 12 or 13 weeks (and so on).

It will be interesting to see the plans that the Pac-12 has when they announce them sometime this month.

Trevor Allen is a Utah Utes Insider for and host of the Crimson Corner podcast. Follow him on Twitter: @TrevorASportsYou can download and listen to the podcast, here.