With four weeks of the 2013 season in the books, the Utah football team has recorded 3 wins with only one loss, which came in overtime against Oregon State. Although they have lost their only PAC-12 game of the season thus far, they still recorded wins over formidable opponents in BYU and Utah State.
This is the best I’ve felt about the Utes since the beginning of the 2010 season, and even though Utah faces a slew of tough PAC-12 opponents in upcoming weeks, I feel like this team has the chance come out with some big victories.
The Utah offense has been off to one of their best starts in years. If you had any doubts about this, Travis Wilson was just named PAC-12 Offensive Player of the week after Utah’s victory over BYU. Finally T-Wil gets the recognition he deserves after an amazing start for the sophomore quarterback. He seems to be steadily improving week after week, and hopefully this trend continues as Utah enters the toughest four game stretch of the season.
Next week Utah faces #13 UCLA at Rice-Eccles Stadium, which is immediately followed by #5 Stanford on the same turf. They then travel south to face Arizona in Tucson followed by USC in Los Angeles. These four games will decide the rest of Utah’s season. Although some may it as unrealistic for the Utes to go 4-0 during this stretch, if the Utes can manage to come out with two victories, I feel as if most Utah fans will see this as an accomplishment.
Even though UCLA sports a great team this year, I’m confident this is a game Utah can win. Averaging just under 53 points per game this season, the UCLA offense appears to be uncontainable right now. But all good things must come to an end at some point. When the Bruins come into Salt Lake City next Thursday night they will be up against a confident Utah team and an even more confident and boisterous crowd. This very well could be the night their offense steps off of Cloud 9 and returns to reality. If the Utah defense is able to come up big, then I think Travis Wilson and the offense will be able to take care of the rest.
Now as for the Stanford game, that is a tough one. They are the #5 ranked team in the country right now, and unfortunately do not appear to be over ranked in the slightest. This should be a thrilling game, and although I am not expecting a win, crazier things have happened under the lights of the Rice-Eccles Stadium.
There is no way to say what we can expect out of the following two games away to Arizona and USC, but I do know the Utes have a realistic chance to win one if not both of these games. Arizona is a rush happy team with a poor pass offense, just what the big boys on the Utah defensive line will like to see. If the Utes can control the trenches in this game, then they have a great chance of shutting down their preferred offense, forcing Arizona to pass the ball which has only rendered 326 yards over three games. USC has had quite a balanced offense, which has not exactly put up overwhelming numbers this season. Their defense on the other hand has allowed just 11 points a game. Although the Utes are better matched up with Arizona, USC is not an unbeatable opponent.
Utah has a great chance to make noise in the PAC-12 this season after a disappointing campaign last year, but it all starts with these four upcoming games. The PAC-12 is a strong conference this year, and this is the year people start to associate the Utah Utes with the likes of USC and Stanford. I expect some tough nights in the next four weeks, but also some jubilant ones.
Regardless of the outcomes, however, I expect one thing out of the Utes. Excitement.