In 2013, Utah is slated to play three in state schools for their three non conference games for the first time in the modern BCS era. With Utah State, Weber State and BYU on the schedule, Utah doesn't have to worry about any cross country trips, but they also don't get the luxury of playing in a new state that could help expand the national footprint of Utah football. There are certainly pros and cons that come with this type of scheduling and I'll be analyzing what helps and what hurts Utah this year, in regards to their non conference schedule.
As I mentioned earlier, it's always a nice benefit when you don't have to travel across the country, like Utah did in 2011 against Pitt, as it can often times have a negative effect on the team. The biggest pro for Utah playing all in state teams for their non conference season, is that Utah can further establish themselves as the state's premier college football program, which can pay huge divdends in recruiting local talent. The Utes shouldn't have to worry about FCS opponent Weber State, so they'll have their sights set firmly on the Aggies and Cougars. After losing to Utah State for the first time since 1997, Utah looks to avenge last years loss when they open the season against them August 29th. The Utes will then look to notch a fourth straight victory against BYU in week 4, with this game having more significance than in recent memory due to the upcoming break the two will take in 2014 and 2015. Bragging rights for three years are at stake
If Utah is to compete year in and year out in the PAC 12, they have to own the state of Utah, and 2013 will go a long ways in doing that if they can go 3-0 against the three in state teams.
The biggest con to Utah playing all in state schools is that it really does nothing to broaden the national footprint of Utah football. To an extent, nobody outside the state of Utah, that isn't already paying attention to Utah football, cares when Utah wins games against BYU, Utah State and Weber State. It puts Utah in a lose-lose situation because winning those games doesn't mean anything to the rest of the country, but if they lose those games, it's another BCS team that loses to a mid major program, which will always get the national media's attention.
Looking at the alternative to what Utah is doing this year, the biggest positive to playing out of state games is that it opens recruits eyes to the program, and it's something that Utah needs to continue to do in order to stay competitive in the PAC 12. Even in a losing effort, playing a team outside of your already established footprint can be a positive for the program as it will open more eyes to Utah football, and the university as a whole. With Utah already being able to play conference games in the states of California, Arizona, Colorado, Oregon and Washington; they need to focus on scheduling non conference games with teams that reside in states that they are attempting to recruit more of. It's no secret that Utah recruits the state of Texas very well, but Utah hasn't played a Texas based team, in the state of Texas, since 2009. If Utah wants to be able to continue their pipeline in the state of Texas, they need to make a more concerted effort to expose these Texas kids to Utah football. Utah has also made inroads with the state of Louisianna recently, and are attempting to do the same with Florida, so scheduling a game in one of those states would go a long ways to helping those recruiting efforts.
Pros and Cons: Utah's Non Conference Schedule
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