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Peavler: Summer breakdown of the Utes' 2014 football schedule

Published: Monday, July 7 2014 7:44 p.m. MDT

With Pac-12 Football Media Day just around the corner, it's time to take a summer look at the University of Utah's 2014 schedule.

And it's a doozy.

The Pac-12 South looks as daunting as ever with teams such as UCLA and USC on the rise. Meanwhile, Utah has to play Pac-12 North powerhouses Oregon and Stanford in back-to-back weeks. Add a trip to the Big House against Michigan, and Utah will play one of the most difficult schedules in the country. In fact, master prognosticator Phil Steele has the Utes at No. 8 in toughest schedules in his 2014 College Football Preview.

Here's a summer breakdown of Utah's 2014 schedule.

Lafe Peavler is a staff sports writer for the Deseret News. Follow him on Twitter @LafePeavler.

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PG #1 FAN
Lindon, UT

Looks like 4-8 would be a great season for Utah. Bye Whit, it was a nice little run you had at Utah.

gdog3finally
West Jordan, Utah

I optimistic about a 7-5 season. I am worried about Utah's linebackers though. Jacoby came on strong the latter half of the year and is a strong athlete. Gionni Paul looks like a stud as well. But I don't think they will be healthy. Utah often has a strong D-Line as well as playmakers at safety and corner. They have long needed good LB play. If the players mentioned aren't healthy then expect Blechen to move to LB, that is if he can stay healthy himself (often injured). If that happens then Utah loses its' best safety via position switch. The offense should be much better but it is the first year under Christensen and who knows if Wilson can stay healthy (assuming he starts). Whoever starts at QB needs reps. Wasted reps, injuries and a new OC means 7-5 will become 4-8.

ekute
Layton, UT

What an exciting schedule! The opportunity is there for the Utes to start out on a roll and build confidence and momentum. Do it Utah!

Who am I sir?
Cottonwood Heights, UT

10 if not 11 games against higher ranked opponents than the Miami Beach Bowl game. Utah again may not make a bowl game (However, I think they will.) But U fans won't have to travel 2500 miles to Miami to see the Utes play Oregon, USC, Arizona, and Washington State (travel will be nearer to 20 miles.) And within 600 miles we can see the Utes playing UCLA, Arizona State, Stanford, Colorado and Oregon State. Beats any bowl game except Sugar Bowl and Fiesta Bowl, IMO

Unbiased1979
dallas, TX

This is a great schedule. Having said that, without a rivalry game, things could be pretty meaningless very quickly with a couple of early loses. I wish the Utes luck, but unless they really luck out, I don't see them winning more than 5 games.

redthunder
Ogden, UT

Idaho State kickoff at 8:30 PM MT? Are you sure? I thought it was 5:30.

VegasUte
Las Vegas, NV

November home games against Oregon and Arizona!! Can't wait!

I wish we were independent and could have November home games against UNLV and Savannah State - said no one ever!

Go Utes!! 7-5 this year

Casey See
FLOWER MOUND, TX

Sorry Utah this doesn't look good

Opponent Win Lose Toss Up
Idaho St. W
Fresno St. TU
Michigan L
Wash. State L
UCLA L
Oregon St TU
USC L
Arizona St L
Oregon L
Stanford L
Arizona TU
Colorado W

2 wins
7 loses
3 toss ups.

At best, 5-7 season, no bowling again this year.

Fight On!
St George, Utah

I keep hearing the same thing from Ute fans. "7-5 this year!"
Where exactly will your 7 wins come from?

You play one of the toughest schedules in the country against the deepest conference in the country. You will be lucky to get to 5 wins without your built in W from BYU. You have huge holes to fill on defense and in your receiving corps. You're QB and RB situation is also a big question AND you are breaking in a new OC. Utah is a terrible team on the road but I believe can play with almost anyone at home.

USC, Oregon, Arizona, WSU, UCLA, and Michigan will all be improved from 2013.
Stanford, Oregon St., ASU, Fresno St., and Stanford will be rebuilding.
Of those rebuilding teams, Utah only gets 1 at home.
Utah is 3-10 on the road vs. conference opponents and 6-8 at home vs conference opponents.

I predict Utah finishes the season 4-8 with wins over ISU, Fresno St, WSU, and Colorado. Utah will have to upset Oregon or USC to finish any better.

Spokane Ute
Spokane, WA

Great schedule creates great opportunity. I guess I could line up the schedule and have it equal 9 wins and 3 loses. But conssidering it's early July; it would make me look quite foolish and nothing more than a Hater.

Johnny Triumph
American Fork, UT

This season will be a great chance for Utah schools to break out and have good seasons! BYU is my school but I sure hope Utah can be competitive and successful this season!

Common-Tator
Saint Paul, MN

Unless one consciously resides in an alternate reality, 4 wins are likely for the Utes, and 5 would be a really good year. And, those in that feigned reality will have to once again console themselves with commenting on some other university's football articles.

And unfortunately for a decent man, it does appear that Coach W will likely be seeking "Ws" at another venue in the not too distant future.

byronbca
Salt Lake City, UT

The advantage of being in the Pac 12, we get to see our Utes play 8-10 bowl game worthy teams every year! But that is also the disadvantage, no free passes to bowl games anymore.

thebigsamoan
Richmond, VA

Wow! Utah has an awesome schedule! What a great opportunity for them to make a statement and prove they're for real and a power to be reckoned with! Here's hoping they'll surprise us all! Looking forward to cheering for both teams now that they're not going to play each other for the next couple years.

From a diehard Cougar fan, Good luck Utes! And Go Cougars!

JNA
Layton, UT

I am a die hard Cougar fan but I must say that I would much rather have the Utes schedule than the pitiful schedule we get at BYU. I want the Utes to have a great season! Go Cougars Go Utes Go Aggies

Steven S Jarvis
Orem, UT

Honestly, this is the best schedule that the Utes have EVER played from a competitive standpoint. There is only one guarantee win on it (Idaho State). The Utes will be competitive at home just as they were last year. Should be a fun season to watch.

My guess is that the Utes will play three ranked teams this year (OR, Stanford and UCLA). Could they pull off an upset over Oregon? Its at home. Maybe. They will have to uptempo big time and gas the opposition.

Spokane Ute
Spokane, WA

JNA and the Big Samoan

Nicely done, accurate and classy comments. Let's get this season going already!

Duckhunter
Highland, UT

I see a lot of losses on that schedule.

Tomahawk Red
North Salt Lake, UT

Common-Tator
Saint Paul, MN
Unless one consciously resides in an alternate reality, 4 wins are likely for the Utes, and 5 would be a really good year.

--------------

No 6 or 7 wins would be a really good year. 5 wins would be another disappointing season and Whittingham would probably get fired for it.

regis
Salt Lake City, UT

If Whittingham and the Utes hope to have any chance at a bowl game, wins against Idaho State and Fresno State to begin the season are essential. And somewhere, somehow, they need to find a way to win a game on the road.

IrieUte
west valley, UT

Mighty BYU with the #97 toughest schedule LOL!

CougarSunDevil
Phoenix, AZ

"This team (ASU) will probably take a step back from its 10-win season in 2013"

LOL, you only wish. Keep trying to downplay ASU. We're going to rock our built in win since 1978 come November 1st.

"but Kelly and the Sun Devils will be dangerous in the desert when the Utes come to town."

More like dominating.

TanMan_101
West Jordan, UT

Lets look at this: Utah went 5-7 last year. They were in every game except the Oregon game. They had every oppurtinity to win more games. USC: Healthy QB=W OSU: Stronger secondary=W WSU: Healthy QB=W Arizona= Healthy QB=W ASU= Coaching, TW's hand healthy= W UCLA= Receivers with hands= W. This year they are improved at every thing I mentioned above that cost them W's. QB play will be as good or better as the first half of last season when TW was healthy.
Adding Devontae Booker, McCormick, and Young make the RB's SCARY. Wide receiver is night and day above last years group. Dres, KScott, the Roadrunner, Clay, Hatty, they are pretty deep there. With Siale F. stepping up TE will be good. The secondary adds Blechen and Carter. Linebacker will be deeper than ever. Special teams is incredible. Possibly the best P/K duo in the conference if not the country. The coaching staff cost Utah win(s) being too conservative. It won't be the same this year. Much more aggression I expect. 8 wins plus a bowl game is not crazy. This team is fast. They are deep, They are talented. Most importantly, they are hungry.

Go Utes!

I'm so excited. 49 days!

JSwaggDaddy
Heber City, UT

I think it's funny that utah fans think they are better than BYU because they have a tougher schedule. If utah had the same or a better record against a touger schedule, then they would be better. But they don't have a better record.

If you put BYU in the SEC and they had to play that rough schedule, does that make us elite? Of course not. We have to actually do something against that schedule.

If you put Alabama in the Sun Belt, does that make them bad? No, they are still one of the top teams in the country.

JSwaggDaddy
Heber City, UT

@TanMan_101

You can't make excuses for why you lost. The other teams had weaknesses and injuries and struggles too. It's like saying, "If I was faster I would have won that race, so therefore I deserved to win."

Any team could make excuses. Here's an example:

Virginia- Weird weather, new offense, Hoffman suspension
utah- Spencer Hadley suspension, bad red zone efficiency
Wisconsin- Not a strong enough front 7
Notre Dame- Not a good enough O-Line, not enough big plays
Washington- Injuries to Unga, Hadley, Matthews, and Apo, and we didn't use all of our bowl practices.

By the way, I don't count any of those as real excuses. I am simply showing you that you could take almost any game and say that you would win if something was different.

But you don't make the excuses, you brush them aside and do your best to win anyway.

Apparently that isn't utah's mindset. Some of their fans are convinced that they were on the verge of the Rose Bowl but somehow ended up 5-7. I suppose Kansas and Kentucky and Indiana were also on the verge of playing in a BCS game last year.

TanMan_101
West Jordan, UT

Exactly my point. Utah is better at all those positions than last year. Should be enough to equal some wins this year. I mentioned absolutely nothing about a Rose Bowl. Also notice I didn't predict an undefeated season. Byu as your post shows is terrified that indeed, Utah is a good team this year.

JSwaggDaddy
Heber City, UT

@TanMan_101

If you think anything over 5-7 is likely you are wearing red goggles. I'm not saying a bowl season is impossible, but mark my words, it's not very likely. In a few months when utah is sitting on the couch watching bowl games you will realize that.

No, I am not terrified that utah is a good team this year. I don't think any opponents are either. You say the RB's are SCARY. I don't think any opponents except Idaho St. are sweating about the talent utah has there. I will admit your wideouts are pretty good, but you make it sound like the RB's, WR's, LB's, special teams and secondary are among the best utah has ever had and among the best in the nation. Sorry, but it's simply not true. And even if utah was better at those positions this year, they will take a step back at other positions.

And where is your proof that the coaching staff will be different this year? Whittingham is Whittingham, and he will coach the same way that he always does. And I think they were hungry last year. Didn't work.

VegasUte
Las Vegas, NV

JSwaggDaddy:

"I think it's funny that utah fans think they are better than BYU because they have a tougher schedule."

No - we know Utah is better than byU because Utah beats byU on the field! When will byU fans realize that?

Go Utes!!

JSwaggDaddy
Heber City, UT

@VegasUte

"No - we know Utah is better than byU because Utah beats byU on the field! When will byU fans realize that?"

-So utah is better than Stanford because they beat Stanford on the field?
-And Wash. St. is better than utah because they beat utah on the field?
-And Stanford is better than Wash. St. because they beat Wash. St. on the field?

Your theory that the better team is always the one who wins is incredibly easy to prove wrong. Sure, the better team usually wins, but upsets happen, and favorable match ups happen.

I'm not even saying that BYU is better than utah. I'm just saying that the better team does not always win. However, the better team has the better overall season, which BYU could very well argue they had a better year than utah last year.

wwookie
Payson, UT

Good chance to start season 4-0. Will win the last two as well. Already to six wins. One or two more wins with the schedule in the middle also likely. 7-5 or 8-4 will be the record this year, plus a bowl win.

How easily we forget the utes were so close to winning most of the games last year. And that was despite the injury issues.

JSwaggDaddy
Heber City, UT

@wwookie

"How easily we forget the utes were so close to winning most of the games last year. And that was despite the injury issues."

How easily you forget the utes were so close to losing most of the games last year. This team was just as close to going 1-11 as they were to going 9-3.

Face it. They deserved to be 5-7 last year. You ute fans have way too many moral victories. A loss is a loss.

Two For Flinching
Salt Lake City, UT

@ JSwaggDaddy

"Sure, the better team usually wins"

Agreed. 4 in a row, 7 of 10, 9 of 12, 57-34-4 overall.

"which BYU could very well argue they had a better year than utah last year."

You could argue that, but it would be disingenuous if it didn't factor in the strength of schedule played by each school.

VegasUte
Las Vegas, NV

JSwaggDaddy:

When we beat Stanford four in a row, I will definitely say we are better. When Wassu beats us four in a row, I will definitely say they are better.

See where I am going with this?

We KNOW Utah is better than byU. No questions about it.

Go Utes!!

VegasUte
Las Vegas, NV

Fight On!:

"Utah is a terrible team on the road"

Wait - does that make byU a terrible team at home if they can't beat a terrible road team at home?

4 in a row!
Ogden, UT

Just not enough cupcakes on the schedule this year.

YOGI46
SALT LAKE CITY, UT

Let's get the season started!!! As a diehard cougar fan. Good Luck this year Utes!! Tough...tough schedule.

Go Cougs....no excuse for an undefeated year...soft schedule.

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