Remember, these are purely fictional and for entertainment purposes. I don't believe that Utah will hit their best case scenario, or worst case scenario, but if things go very right, or very wrong, it's plausible to think they could finish at either end of the win/loss spectrum.
The Utes kick-off the 2013 season at home with a Thursday nighter against Utah State. Trying to exact some revenge after last year's overtime loss, Utah needs a strong performance……and get it by forcing three Chuckie Keeton interceptions in a 31-10 whooping, followed by a another blowout win against Weber State as the offense rolls up over 550 yards.
Then things really get interesting as #24 Oregon State rolls into town. The Beavers sport a 2-0 record a top 25 ranking. That doesn't matter as the Rice-Eccles crowd makes the atmosphere insufferable for Oregon State and the Utes cruise to an easy 27-13 victory.
On the fringe of a top 25 ranking of their own, Utah heads to Provo to take on a BYU team coming off of a three touchdown beat down at the hands of Texas. The bloodshed at Lavell Edwards Stadium continues, as the Utes invoke memories of 2011 with a 49-10 stomping and creep into the rankings at number 25. The Cougars drop to 0-3.
A week off is followed by a Thursday night matchup at home against undefeated and 11th ranked UCLA. As the rain pours down, Utah handles the inclement weather better than the Bruins, keeping Brett Hundley under wraps and getting enough out of a balanced offensive attack to pick up the win 23-16.
Next up is 3rd ranked Stanford. The Cardinal come in averaging over 40 points per game and allowing only 9. They don't hit those numbers as Utah keeps it close for a half, but two second half picks of Travis Wilson are too much to overcome as Stanford deals Utah their first loss, 27-17.
With a #22 ranking and a 5-1 record, Utah heads to Tucson to take on a struggling Arizona team. Kelvin York goes beast-mode, running for 110 yards in the first half on his way to a career high 162 yard performance as the Utes win a shoot-out in the desert, 38-31.
Utah returns to the place of their first ever Pac 12 game against USC in the Coliseum. Despite another solid effort, the Trojan defense comes up with key stops late and Utah drops a nailbiter 20-19.
Utah finally gets the upper-hand on Arizona State the following week behind a great defensive performance. They hold the Sun Devils under 300 yards and get a fumble return for touchdown out of Nate Orchard and a kickoff return for TD from Dres Anderson in a 28-14 win.
A dreaded matchup with 2nd ranked Oregon looms next and the Utes give it their all. A 20-13 halftime lead disappears quickly though as the Ducks take a 34-23 lead into the fourth. Utah gets to within four points, but a Byron Marshall 66 yard TD scamper seals the deal and Oregon escapes with their undefeated record.
The Utes have a letdown the next week at Washington State, but are able to squeak by in another Snow Bowl on the back of the defensive forcing four turnovers and 122 yards rushing out of Kelvin York in a 20-16 win.
Heading into the final weekend in a 3 way tie with UCLA and USC for the Pac 12 South title, the Bruins start the day off by knocking off the Trojans. All Utah needs is a victory over 2-win Colorado to advance to the Pac 12 title game at Oregon courtesy of owning the tiebreaker over UCLA. They post a dominant effort, taking a 21-0 lead at the end of the first quarter and cruise to a 42-10 win and the division championship.
The Pac 12 Championship Game proves too much for the Utes, as Oregon cements their place in the BCS Title game with sound effort over the Utes 38-20. Utah is left hoping for an at-large berth to the Rose Bowl, but are ultimately sent to San Diego.
The Utes head to their first Holiday Bowl where they meet a 10-2 Texas squad. Barry Switzer says that not a single one of the Utah players would play for Alabama Texas. Kyle Whittingham and company go out and beat up the Longhorns 31-17 in a game that is never as close as the final score indicates.
Utah finishes the year ranked 13th in both polls, Whittingham is named Pac 12 Coach of the Year, Jeremiah Poutasi is named a second team All American, Kalani Sitake turns down head coaching job opportunities at both UNLV and Hawaii, Jake Murphy decides to return for his senior season, and the Utes bring in a top 20 recruiting class led by TE Dalton Schultz and OL Damien Mama. The Dallas Cowboys come hard after Coach Whitt in February, but he turns them down only to sign another long-term extension with the Utes that increases his yearly salary to over $3 million. BYU finishes 4-8. Cougar fans complain that they were only 13 touchdowns away from an undefeated season.
In the opener, Chuckie Keeton goes hog wild, bringing back nightmares of Brett Hundley slicing and dicing the Utah D in 2012 with multiple 3rd and long pickups with his legs. Keeton also kills the Utes with his arm, throwing for over 250 yards and 3 touchdowns as the Aggies take their second straight over Utah by a convincing 30-14 margin.
They rebound the following week against Weber State with a 41-14 win, but struggle to move the ball with consistency, relying on the big play in the second half after leading by only a field goal at the break.
Oregon State comes into town next and causes more offensive issues for Utah, holding the Utes scoreless in the first half after Travis Wilson throws 2 interceptions. He's replaced at halftime by Adam Schulz, who doesn't fare any better, as Utah falls 24-7. Kyle Whittingham announces that the quarterback competition is open again and that all five scholarship QBs will get first team reps in practice this week heading into BYU.
No one stands out, and Whitt elects to go with Wilson again down in Provo. A tie game throughout turns in the 4th quarter on a long punt return by Charles Henderson that gets the Utes inside BYU's 20. On the first snap, Kyle Van Noy picks off Wilson on a deflected ball and returns it 88 yards for a Cougar TD that provides the winning margin at 20-13.
The following week, Stanford comes in to take on a Utah team that does a complete overhaul and benches 6 starters from the previous week. The results are the same as the Cardinal win at Rice-Eccles, 34-17 despite two Brandon Cox touchdown runs.
Utah heads to the desert and takes on another struggling program in Arizona. The running game churns out 250 yards and the Utes shock the Wildcats on a last second field goal, 31-28 to get their first conference win of the year.
With a bit of confidence, they head to the Coliseum to take on the Trojans. A valiant effort by Cox and new favorite target, Kenneth Scott, comes up short when the Trojans get the ball back with 6 minutes on the clock and a 2 point lead, and proceed to run out the clock with multiple 3rd down conversions.
Arizona State comes to town next and does what the Sun Devils like to do to the Utes…embarrass them. Utah turns the ball over 5 times, including 4 times in ASU territory, as they fall 33-16. Chris Hill comes out on Monday following the game and gives Kyle Whittingham the dreaded vote of confidence.
Now 2-7, Utah goes to Eugene and takes on top ranked Oregon. It's a laugher from the start with the Ducks piling up over 600 yards of total offense. Cox is knocked out of the game and Wilson is reinserted where he leads the Utes to three, too little, too late, second half touchdowns in a 55-31 loss.
With the season looking like a total loss, Utah goes into Pullman trying to keep a surprising Washington State squad from reaching bowl eligibility. Snow Bowl II ensues as both teams turn it over 4 times. A late Devontae Booker fumble turns into a Wazzu TD and the Utes fall 23-17.
At 2-9, Whittingham looks like a dead-man walking heading into the ‘rivalry' game with Colorado. The Utes put up their best performance of the season in a 38-13 win finishing the year at 3-9 and bringing some hope for 2014.
Whittingham is retained, but is told to get to a bowl game in 2014 or he'll be let go. Kenyon Frison and Alani Havili flip to Oklahoma as the Utes bring in the 56th ranked recruiting class. Jake Murphy enters the NFL draft and Travis Wilson transfers to Wyoming. BYU busts the BCS at 11-1 and knocks off Oklahoma State in the Fiesta Bowl. Whittingham hires Brandon Doman to be the co-co-offensive coordinator and call plays. Kalani Sitake takes the head job at Weber State.
Season Outlook: Best Case/Worst Case
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