An early look at the 2013 schedule: (7 home games/5 away games).
Coming off the most successful season in a very long time, Utah State will be looking to knock of the Utes for the second consecutive year. Gary Anderson will be making his second appearance back to Rice-Eccles Stadium since leaving the Utah program and taking over at Utah State. Chuckie Keeton will be coming off of an impressive sophomore season and confidence should be sky high for the junior quarterback. With that being said, the Utes didn't take this past seasons loss to the Aggies too well and will be looking for revenge. Utah's depth and athleticism will be too much for the Aggies to handle and the Utes win this game.
This year will be Jody Sears' first season as the head football coach for the Weber State Wildcats. Coming off of a disappointing 2-9 season, Sears will obviously be looking to turn things around and have a lot more success than the Wildcats did this past season. Unfortunately for coach Sears, facing the Utes in Salt Lake City will be far from an easy early season game. Utah will be too fast, too strong, too deep for the Wildcats and the Utes will win this game in convincing fashion.
Todd Graham will be in his second year as Arizona State's head coach. Having a very inconsistent season in 2012, the Sun Devils will be looking for more consistency on both sides of the ball. Quarterback Taylor Kelly and running back D.J. Foster will be leading the way for the offense in the 2013 season but will only be returning 6 starters on that side of the ball. Assuming Will Sutton decides to not leave early for the NFL, Arizona State should have a pretty strong defense with 8 returning starters. After what Arizona State did to the Utes in 2012, it will be difficult for the Sun Devils to duplicate that performance in Rice-Eccles. That being said, I have Arizona State beating the Utes for the third season in a row.
UCLA is going to be a very good team in 2013 and could very well win the South division for the third year in a row. Quarterback Brett Hundley will be looking to improve on his already impressive 2012 season and will be a threat all game long for Utah's defense. With key players such as Johnathan Franklin and possibly Anthony Barr leaving for the NFL, the Bruins will have some big shoes to fill at those positions. With UCLA being one of the more talented teams in the nation and what coach Jim Mora has already done for this program since he took over as head coach, the Bruins will be able to compete with any team in the conference in 2013. Sadly, I don't see Utah winning this game.
Oregon State shocked the nation in 2012, and I think it's safe to say, was a lot more competitive than people thought they would be. Mike Reilly is a great football coach and is doing an excellent job up in Corvalis. Returning quarterback Sean Mannion and running back Storm Woods will be looking to add to the success they had in 2012 and be a contender in the North division. Losing standouts Markus Wheaton and Jordan Poyer will be a big hit to the Beavers and will be very tough to replace. I don't see Oregon State having the kind of success as they did in the 2012 season and I see them coming up short in Salt Lake City and unable to knock of the Utes.
Utah will face Stanford for the first time since joining the Pac-12, and will look to knock of the 2012 North division champs in Salt Lake City. The Cardinal will have 17 returning starters (8 on offense and 9 on defense) but the chances of all of those starters actually returning are slim due to them entering the NFL draft. Without a doubt, the biggest loss for the Cardinal will be running back Stepfon Taylor. I think the loss of Taylor and to the 2012 senior class as a whole will be a huge blow to this Stanford team. Though quarterback Kevin Hogan will do a great job leading the Cardinal in 2013 and will be one of the top teams in the Pac-12 next season, Utah wins this game.
Recently hired head coach Mike MacIntyre will lead the Buffaloes into Salt Lake City and try to repeat what Colorado was able to do in 2011 and knock off the Utes in Rice-Eccles stadium. MacIntyre was a good hire by the University of Colorado, as he has done a great job at San Jose State since taking over. This being said, the WAC is not the PAC-12. MacIntyre has a great deal of work ahead of him in turning around CU's football program. I think the Buffs are a long ways away from becoming a factor in the PAC-12 and are in for another long season in 2013. Utah wins this game.
Utah will take on the Cougars in Provo this year, and will be the last time the two teams meet until the 2016 season. With Utah dominating the rivalry as of late winning the last 3 in a row and 8 of the last 11, both teams will look to come away with the win, and just as important, bragging rights for the next couple years. For the 2013 season, BYU will have lost senior quarterbacks Riley Nelson and James Lark but will have plenty of talented quarterbacks looking to take over the starting job. With a lot of key losses to the 2012 team, BYU will have a a lot of spots to fill on both sides of the ball. Running Back Jamaal Williams is a great back and will really help this BYU team move the ball in 2013. With in my opinion a lot of uncertainty at a good amount of positions, I don't see BYU having a very successful season in 2013. Utah wins this game.
Rich Rodriguez and the Arizona Wildcats will be a good test for the Utes on the road. Running Back Ka'Deem Carey, who lead the nation in rushing in 2012, is an excellent back and will give the Utes problems on defense. Carey was able to rack up 1752 rushing yards in the 2012 season, and averaged nearly 150 rushing yards a game. Rich Rodriguez will rely on Carey in a big way in 2013 and will once again see a great workload each game. With quarterback Matt Scott graduating, B.J. Denker will likely step in as the starting quarterback for the Wildcats. If the Utes can at least keep Carey somewhat under control, I think Utah moves the ball well against Arizona and wins this game.
Utah will take on the Trojans at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum this year. After nearly knocking off the Trojans in 2011 in the Coliseum, it will take another great effort by the Utes if they want to go into LA and get a victory. With defensive coordinator Monte Kiffin leaving USC, Lane Kiffin will look to find somebody to replace one of the preeminent defensive coordinators in football in his dad Monte. With the departure of Monte Kiffin, Matt Barkley, and most likely Robert Woods and Silas Redd, USC will have quite a bit of reloading to do. Having one of the most talented teams in the nation, the reloading process shouldn't hurt this team to the extent it would many other teams in the nation and I think USC beats the Utes in LA.
The Utes will be heading to Eugene to take on the mighty ducks of Oregon this season. I think a lot of what Oregon is able to do in 2013 is hindering on whether or not Chip Kelly makes the jump to the NFL. Whether Kelly stays or not, Oregon's roster will be overflowing with incredible athletes on both sides of the ball. Losing Kenjon Barner, Michael Clay, Kiko Alonso, etc. will hurt the ducks without a doubt, but Markus Mariota will be ready to lead Oregon to another great season. De'Anthony Thomas is one of the most entertaining players to watch in college football and has a very unique way of playing the game. Whether or not Chip Kelly stays with Oregon, Utah will have a very hard time going into Autzen Stadium and getting the win. Utah will be unable to knock off the ducks and loses this game.
Mike Leach and the Washington State Cougars will have a great amount of starters coming back on both side of the ball. With a disappointing first season as the cougars head coach, Leach will continue to attack defenses through the air in hopes of more success in 2013. The quarterback who will likely be leading this air attack will be RS Junior Conner Halliday. Receiving the touches when Leach does decide to run the ball will likely be running back Teondray Caldwell. While the cougars struggled on both sides of the ball in 2012, I do think they will be better on both offense and defense in 2013. Though they will be an improved team, I don't see the improvements being to a great extent. Utah wins this game.
Final Record (8-4, 5-4)
That's an early 8-4 prediction for the season, not knowing when the conference games and BYU will be played yet. The Utes could get a tough in-conference draw with a glut of difficult games early on the road, spinning the season out of control, or find a nice home and away mix with a strong start under their belt that leads to more than 8 wins. All that said, things should be better in 2012.
Early 2013 Football Season Look-Ahead
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