1. Oregon State- Sep 14
Why? It's the Pac 12 opener, in Salt Lake City, against a solid team. Utah wants to show that they belong? Beat a likely bowl bound team and open conference play with a win. The Utes have opened each Pac 12 slate with an 0-4 mark the last two years. Getting off to great start will go a long ways towards building confidence, and inching closer to that magical six win number.
2. UCLA- Oct 3 (Thur)
Why? Utah doesn't hold a single signature Pac 12 victory yet. The Bruins should come in as a ranked team, and have a great shot at being undefeated and in the top 15. UCLA has historically been a poor road team, as evidenced by a 5-8 away record the last two seasons, both of which still resulted in Pac 12 South titles. It's a Thursday nighter in front of a national audience against an opponent that is beatable.
3. Arizona State - Nov 9
Why? Revenge game. Utah fans have developed a hatred for ASU that seems to have trumped all others in the conference. After the past two debacles, including the embarrassment in the desert last season that many have tried to erase from their memory, the Utes need this one. It's against a division foe at Rice-Eccles. Another chance to get a statement win against an upper-echelon opponent.
4. Utah State- Aug 29 (Thur)
Why? It's the season opener, and the Utes want revenge after dropping last year's heart breaker. Lose this one, and we're probably all in for another long season. Win it, and the trek back to bowl eligibility is off to a great start. If the Utes were to lose two in a row to their baby brother, the emotional scars could wreck this team.
5. at Washington State- Nov 23
Is this the biggest swing game on the schedule? Wazzu should be improved, but the Utes waxed them last season in Salt Lake. They'll play it in Pullman where the weather, as we saw in 2011, can make things interesting. Utah has more talent, but Wazzu gets the homefield advantage. This is likely a must-wing if the Utes want to go bowling.
6. at BYU- Sep 21
Why? Utah owns the Cougars right now and would love to keep Little Brother in their place. While the Pac 12 race implications aren't there for this one, bragging rights for multiple years, and more importantly, another victory to help get closer to bowl eligibility, are at stake.
7. at USC- Oct 26
Why? It's USC. This game won't have the fanfare of last season's tilt, but Utah would love to pull one out in the Coliseum. While a win may be tough to come by, knocking off a quality opponent on the road has not happened yet during Pac 12 play, and would do wonders for the program, especially if it's in front of a large contingent of So Cal recruits.
8. at Arizona- Oct 19
Why? Division opponent on the road. The Wildcats should be decent, but not great. Utah may need this one to get to a bowl game if they're not able to hold serve at home against the likes of Oregon State, UCLA, and Arizona State.
9. Colorado- Nov 30
Why? Utah should be Colorado, right? This is the season finale and could be the final piece to the bowl game puzzle. If nothing else, ending the season with a victory will be good for off-season morale.
10. Stanford- Oct 12
Why? This team could be a national title contender, and as I see it, a bad matchup for Utah. Win, and the Salt Lake City will party for days. Lose, and it's not a big deal, as it's expected.
11. at Oregon- Nov 16
Why? You don't really expect Utah to go into Eugene and knock off the Ducks, do you? While a win would go a long ways in building confidence and momentum, to expect anything more than being competitive is foolish. Enjoy the experience. Play the Ducks tight. Take the loss and move on to the next week.
12. Weber State- Sep 7
Why? It's just Weber. The Utes should win this by 4+ touchdowns. No concerns here.
Ranking the 2013 Games
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