"When I look at their schedule, things are a little different than when I look at BYU's schedule. To me, the key to Utah's season is going to be their toss-up games. How do they do at home against Oregon State? How do they do at home against UCLA, home against Arizona State, at Washington State? If they can win three of those four games, they could get back to a bowl, but for the record I did not put them on my most-improved list, so I did not project them for a bowl game this year," Steele said. "I think we're going to see improved play out of Utah. It's just a killer schedule they're taking on."
Steele said that the hiring of Dennis Erickson to be co-offensive coordinator for the Utes was a good coaching move by the team.
"I think its a good fit, a real good fit bringing him in as an offensive coordinator, and I think you will see Utah be more explosive on the offensive side."
BYU also had changes on the offensive side of the ball bringing in Robert Anae. Steele said that while he expects Anae to have more immediate success, Utah's hiring Erickson would pay off in the long run.
"I think this year you're going to see Anae have more success," Steele said. "I do think Erickson, if he sticks around long enough, a couple years, even next year, you would start seeing his effect on the offense right then, but for this year, I'll go with Anae."
Coming off one of the best seasons in school history, and gearing up to join the Mountain West next season, Steele says that Utah State may not match last season’s success but will still have a strong season.
"I don't know if they can match what they did last year, 11-2 — that was just a phenomenal season," Steele said. "I don't like the fact that they are losing their head coach. I don't like the fact that they are taking a step up in conference play. I don't see them matching last year’s 11-win total, but I actually have them favored in nine of their games, so getting to 10 shouldn't even be a problem if they win their bowl game."
After helping the team to an 11-win season last year, coach Gary Andersen took a job at Wisconsin. Steele said that Wisconsin could have a shot at a fourth straight Big 10 title.
"I think he steps into a really good situation," Steele said. "Schedule's a lot softer, you look at the games they'll be favored would be 10 this year, if they knock off Ohio State on Sept. 28, it looks like they could have a fourth Big 10 title. I'm not calling it. I think they lose that game and come in second in the Leaders Division, but double-digit wins. They could actually have a better team and a better record, but not take home the Big 10 title like they did last year."
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