Mike Sorensen: Some good, some bad for all Utah teams

Published: Monday, Oct. 17 2011 11:58 a.m. MDT

SALT LAKE CITY — It's mid-October and the college football season is already half over.

Among the local teams, Utah, Utah State and Weber State have played half of their games, while BYU and Southern Utah have each played seven.

So it's time to take a look at how the various teams stack up right now and what their prospects are for the rest of the season.

UTAH

SO FAR: Although many Ute fans expected to be 4-2 or 5-1 right now, at 3-3, the Utes may be about where they should be with a schedule that is ranked No. 9 toughest in the country by Sagarin (opponents have a combined 30-11 record).

However, not many folks figured the Utes would be out of the Pac-12 South race so early. And no one expected quarterback Jordan Wynn to be out for the year with another injury and for the team to turn the ball over 10 times in two home losses.

OUTLOOK: The Ute schedule is much more favorable in the second half of the season with all of their games against the bottom six teams in the Pac-12.

The Utes are likely to win at least three of their remaining games, although if they can stay away from turnovers and penalties, they have a chance to win every game. Their last six opponents have a combined 12-25 record.

By finishing with a 6-6 mark, the Utes would be bowl eligible for the ninth straight year, which most likely lands them in the New Mexico Bowl. If they can pick up another win or two and finish 7-5 or 8-4, the Las Vegas, Kraft Hunger (San Francisco) and Hyundai Sun (El Paso) bowls come into play.

BYU

SO FAR: After a shaky start to the season, the Cougars seem to have righted the ship behind a new quarterback and are just an Idaho State win away from securing a berth in Bell Helicopter Armed Forces Bowl.

The Cougars and their fans know all too well that except for some 4th-quarter clutch play in three games, they could just as well be 2-5 as 5-2 right now. They also know that even though their wins have come against the worst team in the SEC, one of the worst teams in the Pac-12, two WAC schools and Central Florida, they still count as Ws.

OUTLOOK: Everyone talks about the easy part of the Cougar schedule coming up and it is easier than the first half, though only slightly. Their remaining opponents have a combined 13-19 record, compared to 18-24 for their previous seven opponents.

Two games will be tough, the neutral-field game at Cowboys Stadium against TCU this month and the season-ender at Hawaii on Dec. 3. The guess from here is that the Cougars will lose one of those games and cruise through the three remaining home games before they play SMU in the bowl game Dec. 30 in Dallas.

UTAH STATE

SO FAR: Just as BYU could have a losing record right now, the Aggies could very well be 6-0 or 5-1 right now. Close losses to Auburn, Colorado State and BYU were each decided in the final minute of the game. Saturday night they led Fresno State most of the way, but went scoreless in the second half and lost 31-21. In victories over Weber State and Wyoming they won by an average score of 58-18.

OUTLOOK: The Aggies seem good enough to be a bowl team for the first time in 14 years, but it's going to be a challenge.

They have six straight WAC games, three at home and three on the road, but there are no easy pushovers in the league this year. The game at Hawaii Nov. 5 will be tough and they also must play at Idaho and New Mexico State.

We'd love to see the Aggies go bowling, but see them coming up a game short at 5-7.

WEBER STATE

SO FAR: The Wildcats improved to 3-3 this week with an easy win over Idaho State and are still in the Big Sky race at 3-1. They've looked pretty good at times in stretches and two of their losses were to FBS teams Utah State and Wyoming.

OUTLOOK: The Wildcats still control their own destiny with league games against the top two Big Sky teams, Montana State and Montana, Oct. 29 and Nov. 5, followed by games against Portland State and Northern Arizona. First, they must try to get past Southern Utah at home this week.

The Wildcats should finish with a winning season, but miss the FCS playoffs.

SOUTHERN UTAH

SO FAR: The T-Birds had a breakthrough 41-16 win at UNLV and appeared to be on their way to their first-ever playoff appearance.

However, like the Aggies, they've lost three games in heartbreaking fashion, including Saturday's 31-27 last-minute defeat to Cal Poly. Their four losses have been by a combined 16 points.

OUTLOOK: The T-Birds' schedule isn't kind the rest of the way with just one more home game and tough road tests at the No. 2-ranked FCS team, Northern Iowa, Northern Arizona and Weber State this week.

To get to the playoffs, the 3-4 T-Birds need at least seven wins and eight would be preferable. That means no more losses the rest of the way, which is unlikely.

email: sor@desnews.com

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