Unrivaled: Utah’s 2021 Football Schedule Is Set Up For A Great Year
SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – Utah’s 2021 football schedule was released on Tuesday and there are a number of initial reactions to the Utes schedule with most liking the schedule, including head coach Kyle Whittingham.
The schedule itself has been hailed as one of the easier slates by national media, and that can be a good thing for this Utes team as they aren’t for sure who their starting quarterback will be.
Thursday, Sept. 2 – Weber State
Saturday, Sept. 11 – at BYU
Saturday, Sept. 18 – at San Diego State
Saturday, Sept. 25 – Washington State
Saturday, Oct. 9 – at USC
Saturday, Oct 16 – Arizona State
Saturday, Oct. 23 – at Oregon State
Saturday, Oct. 30 – UCLA
Friday, Nov. 5 – at Stanford
Saturday, Nov. 13 – at Arizona
Saturday, Nov. 20 – Oregon
Friday, Nov. 26 – Colorado
The first thing everyone looks for on Utah’s schedule is USC. This year it comes at a great time with the Utes having a bye week leading into the road game at the Colosseum. The rest of the away slate during league play is very favorable by going to Stanford and Arizona – both very winnable games – even with Oregon State slightly improving they are ranked 60th in the initial SP+ rankings while Utah is 19th.
That road slate is very favorable to Utah. The toughest stretch includes going to USC and then hosting Arizona State the following week and those two games very likely will determine what team wins the Pac-12 South. The Oregon game is obviously another tough one, but it is sandwiched in between another pair of games that Utah should be favored in – a road game at Arizona and a home Black Friday game versus Colorado.
What Are Realistic Expectations
The schedule release six months before a season starts breeds optimism for the fanbases and Utah is no exception. The Utes have plenty of strengths returning including the vast majority of its defense.
However, the offense is in a rebuild mode, and potentially relying on a transfer quarterback, no matter how good, is a concern and there is no guarantee they will be good. Just look at least year with Bentley who was heralded to come in and be the starter but it was Cam Rising who got the nod. When Bentley was forced into action with Rising’s injury it did not go well.
KSL Sports Scott Mitchell felt if Utah had a returning quarterback with experience then this Utah team could be special.
“The first thing that jumps off the schedule for me is the concern I had a year ago was the quarterback,” Mitchell said. “Utah had a great opportunity to get a quarterback to play four or five games with Cam Rising. If he would have been able to play four or five games, this team would have been really seasoned.”
The one positive about the Utes possibly breaking in Brewer to take over for the quarterback position is that he will have about a month worth of games before the Utes play a really tough game vs. USC.
“What jumps off at me is that you’re going to have before you really get into the games that are the heart of your schedule, you’re going to have five weeks before you get to your new conference game against USC,” Mitchell said. “He’s a guy that’s really been able to effectively throw and run, and he’ll fit very nicely into Utah’s offense.
“What this does is it gives this guy some really good playing time to get used to the system, the players, the whole process before you actually go to USC, because if you’re going to win the South, if you’re going to win the Pac-12, you’ve got to deal with USC.”
Going through the Trojans is always the goal and the Utes have not defeated USC in Los Angeles since Pac-12 play and the last time Utah won at Southern Cal was all the way back in 1916.
Getting past USC is tough but Arizona State might be the tougher team and that is directly after the Utes game against the Trojans, but the good news is that the Sun Devils come to Salt Lake City.
“You always have to deal with USC and to have the layout of the schedule like it is. It’s it’s it’s beautiful. Now, the downside to all this, is that next week you got to play Arizona State.”
That two-game stretch very likely will determine the South Division as the Utes, Trojans, and Sun Devils are very likely to be the top three, and then the UCLA Bruins a distant fourth.
If Utah is going to have a chance to win the South, they must at the very least split between the Trojans and Sun Devils.
Winning both should give them the South title and beyond those two games, the only other one on the schedule that can be perceived as a loss is hosting Oregon. Getting the Ducks at home is a game that Utah can not be counted out.
The schedule plays out very nice for Utah with a bye before going to USC and then hosting Arizona State and Oregon as its three toughest, yet still winnable games.