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Mike Sorensen: Football is starting, so it's time for predictions for the in-state teams

Published: Sunday, Aug. 7 2011 8:05 p.m. MDT

SALT LAKE CITY — Now that all but one of the local college football camps has kicked off (Southern Utah starts Tuesday), it's time to take a look into our crystal ball to see what might transpire over the next four months.

Today we're looking at the best, worst and most likely scenarios for the various college teams in the state. Obviously, the best-case scenario for every school is 12-0 and the worst is 0-12, but we're talking possibilities and probabilities here folks. Also, we're looking only at regular-season records. We'll deal with the postseason later.

UTAH

Best-case scenario: 10-2 — With a favorable schedule, Jordan Wynn comes back strong from his off-season surgery, one of the Utes new trio of running backs rushes for 1,000 yards and the defense comes up big. Utah wins all six home games and picks up four road wins and earns a Pac-12 title game berth.

Worst-case scenario: 4-8 — Wynn re-injures his shoulder early in the season and the Utes must use unproven Tyler Shreve, none of the new running backs step up and the defensive backfield can't keep up with the top quarterbacks in the Pac-12.

Most likely scenario: 8-4 — The Utes are going to find out how much tougher it will be, playing in the Pac-12 with no more Wyomings and UNLVs on the schedule. They'll probably drop a game at home and go 3-3 on the road, which should be good enough to get them into the Sun Bowl, Utah's eighth different bowl game in the last nine years.

BYU

Best-case scenario: 10-2. The Cougars win two of their first three games and get rolling with a favorable late-season schedule. Jake Heaps passes for 4,000 yards and the defense produces three shutouts for the first time since 1985.

Worst-case scenario: 5-7 — The Cougars lose their first three games to Mississippi, Texas and Utah, see their confidence drop and it snowballs into losses to Oregon State TCU, Hawaii and someone they're supposed to beat like UCF or Utah State. The Cougs are grateful to have New Mexico State, San Jose State, Idaho and Idaho State on the schedule.

Most likely scenario: 8-4 — The Cougars will likely split their first four games and only win two of the three games against Oregon State, TCU and Hawaii. Utah State won't be a pushover — remember last year — but the game is in Provo. That will give the Cougars a berth in the Bell Helicopter Bowl in Dallas. Of course, they'll be going to Texas even if they finish 6-6 or 11-1, since it will likely take an undefeated season to go to a BCS bowl.

UTAH STATE

Best-case scenario: 8-4 — After losing to defending national champion Auburn in the opener, the Aggies start beating up on foes that they've lost to in recent years and are happy there's no Boise State on their schedule. They win all of their home games and pick up a couple of road wins and are bowl-bound for the first time since 1997.

Worst-case scenario: 3-9 — After just two winning seasons in the past 30 years, including 11 seasons with three or fewer wins, the Ags fall back into their old ways after losing key players to injuries.

Most likely scenario: 6-6 — At least it's not a losing season. Then with a win in the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl in Boise, the Aggies can experience the school's first winning season going back to the time most of the players on the team were in pre-school.

WEBER STATE

Best-case scenario: 7-4 — Despite losing key players such as four-year starting quarterback Cameron Higgins, the Wildcats knock off one of their FBS opponents and finish better than their fifth-place prediction in the Big Sky.

Worst-case scenario: 3-8 — After getting blown out on the road at Wyoming and Utah State, the Weebs lose their only September home game before losing two more Big Sky road games, including one at defending FCS national champion Eastern Washington.

Most likely scenario: 5-6 — The Wildcats should beat Idaho State, Northern Arizona and Sacramento State at home and could pick up road wins at Northern Colorado and Portland State. But home games against Southern Utah and Montana State won't be easy and the road games at Montana, EWU, Wyoming and Utah State will be tough to win.

SOUTHERN UTAH

Best-case scenario: 10-1 — Just four years removed from an 0-11 season, the T-Birds knock off UNLV and Weber State on the road and quarterback Brad Sorensen wins the Walter Payton award as the top FCS offensive player and coach Ed Lamb is coach of the year.

Worst-case scenario: 4-7 — The T-Birds struggle on the road with two trips to South Dakota and games against traditional FCS powers Cal Poly and Northern Iowa, along with Big Sky schools Weber State and Northern Arizona and the Mountain West's UNLV.

Most likely scenario: 8-3 — With only four home games, it will be tough for the T-Birds to get to nine wins. But the T-Birds were never out of any game last year and only lost to FCS national champion Eastern Washington by a touchdown on the road. The T-Birds, who were ranked No. 16 in the preseason by the Sporting News, could end up with the best record among the state's college football teams.

Email: sor@desnews.com

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