David Goldman, AP
It's finally time to put all the disappointments of 2013 behind us and start looking ahead to a brand new year full of promise and potential.
So stop fretting about Utah's frustrating 5-7 football season, BYU's lackluster bowl-game loss and the fact that none of the state's collegiate men's basketball teams reached the NCAA tournament. Forget about the Utah Jazz missing the NBA playoffs last season, and their dreadful 1-14 start to this season. Quit whining about your favorite high school team's state playoff failures, or how the Salt Lake Bees fell short in the PCL championship series.
None of that matters now.
Instead, it's time to peer into our crystal basketball and make some predictions about what could — and, in some cases, should — transpire during 2014:
January — Once-beaten Auburn steams past previously undefeated Florida State 34-21 to win the national collegiate football championship. In a honky-tonk bar somewhere in the deep South, Alabama coach Nick Saban can be found grumbling about how much he's "looking forward to that four-team playoff for the title next year" — and laments how his Crimson Tide team "forgot to show up for the Sugar Bowl again" (see disappointing losses to heavy underdog Utah in 2009 and even bigger underdog Oklahoma in 2014).
February — Two point guards with ties to Utah make a big splash during NBA All-Star Weekend in New Orleans. The Portland Trail Blazers' Damian Lillard, a former Weber State star, earns himself a starting spot on the Western Conference squad after the Clippers' Chris Paul and the Thunder's Russell Westbrook are sidelined with injuries. And Utah Jazz rookie Trey Burke impressively struts his stuff in the Rising Stars Challenge.
March — Weber State makes sure that the Beehive State won't get shut out of the NCAA men's tournament for a second straight year by winning the Big Sky Conference championship. The Utah and Utah State men's teams each win more than 20 games but have to settle for NIT berths, as does BYU, but the Utah and BYU women's teams both earn NCAA berths.
April — Shortly after winning another green jacket at the Masters, Tiger Woods suffers a nasty gash over his right eye when his girlfriend, Olympic super-G gold medalist Lindsey Vonn, smacks him with a ski pole for flirting with a cashier at a Piggly Wiggly grocery store in Georgia.
May — Alex Rodriguez continues his contentious court fight with Major League Baseball over his 211-game suspension for alleged steroids use. A-Rod, the New York Yankees' tainted slugger who vehemently maintains his innocence despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary, claims that he has three high-powered associates — namely the Easter Bunny, the Tooth Fairy and the Lucky Charms leprechaun — who will testify on his behalf.
June — Countless Utah Mormons cheer as the Jazz, who finished with 30 wins and far out of the playoff picture, land coveted Duke player Jabari Parker in the NBA Draft. The Indiana Pacers win their first NBA championship with a Game 7 victory over Oklahoma City, proving once again that a small-market team can build through the draft and win the title — and giving renewed hope to the Jazz organization and Jazz fans.
July — Real Salt Lake extends its winning streak to 10 straight games under first-year head coach Jeff Cassar, prompting some spirited RSL fans to chant "Jason who?" during a 2-0 victory over Vancouver at sold-out Rio Tinto Stadium. The Jazz re-sign Gordon Hayward to a five-year, $55 million deal, with a never-seen-before contract stipulation that he must purchase a tanning bed and use it at least twice a week.
August — BYU offensive coordinator Robert Anae unveils his revamped "go slower and score more points" offense during the opening week of fall camp. Utah State's hopes soar when quarterback Chuckie Keeton reports to camp feeling 100 percent healthy following last year's devastating knee injury. And Utah fans breathe a collective sigh of relief when quarterback Travis Wilson is cleared to play for the upcoming campaign.
September — Despite opening the season with four straight road games under first-year head football coach Jay Hill, Weber State wins two of them to match its win total from each of the previous two seasons. After starting the season 5-0, thanks in part to a BYU offense that's going a little slower but scoring a lot more points, talk of a big-time bowl berth begins to build in Provo.
October — Led by superb performances by overpowering southpaw pitcher Clayton Kershaw, a much more mature Yasiel Puig and a finally healthy Matt Kemp, the Los Angeles Dodgers win their first World Series title since 1988, defeating the New York Yankees in six games in a Fall Classic of matching teams with a combined payroll of almost $500 million — proving once again that small-market teams have no chance of winning the title.
November — The Utah football team finishes its season with a 7-5 record, earning its first bowl berth in three years and bringing a collective sigh of relief from Ute fans — along with head coach Kyle Whittiingham, who can finally sit down comfortably after being on the hot seat for the last year. BYU winds up 10-2 and is headed for the Las Vegas Bowl, grateful to be going somewhere other than the Fight Hunger, Poinsettia, Armed Forces or New Mexico bowls. With Keeton enjoying a stellar comeback season, Utah State wins nine games and will go bowling for a fourth straight season. Southern Utah claims the Big Sky championship and a second straight FCS playoff berth, and Weber State fans are pleased as punch to go 5-6 after back-to-back 2-win seasons.
December — For the first time in history, the BYU, Utah and Utah State football teams all win bowl games in the same year. RSL loses in the Western Conference final, prompting a frustrated Kyle Beckerman to shave off his dreds. The Utah Jazz are the talk of the NBA after winning 12 of their first 15 games, featuring a youthful starting lineup of Burke, Derrick Favors, Enes Kanter, their Rookie of the Year candidate Parker, and Hayward, who's happy with his new contract — and displaying a great tan.
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