Breakdown of Utah's 2014 Schedule

The schedule is brutal, the opponents are talented and Utah's quarterback is unknown. Can the Utes overcome it all and reach a 2014 bowl game?

We've put together a short breakdown on each game with early projections on the winners. We've also included previous week's and next week's opponent information on the conference games so you can see how the Utah matchup fits in with each opponent's schedule.

If last year's schedule was brutal, then give this years schedule a "Plus 1" because it doesn't get any easier.

8/28 Idaho State

A game against the Bengals is a great way to kickoff the season for the Utes who will likely be breaking in a new quarterback, new receivers perhaps a new running back or two and now run by new OC Dave Christensen. The Utes talent should overcome anything Idaho State presents and give valuable game experience to the Utes in their only "gimme" game on the schedule.

Projected Winner: Utah (1-0)

9/6 Fresno State

This Fresno team won't be the darling we saw in 2013, who then got worked by USC in the Vegas bowl. This team loses Carr and talent around him. This isn't an automatic win for the Utes, but they are more talented than the Bulldogs and better talent at home usually equals a win.

Projected Winner: Utah (2-0)

9/20 at Michigan

Utah returns to the "Big House", the site of where the Sugar Bowl Championship run started in 2008. The Utes have had a history of getting up for huge games like this one and have done well against non-Pac-12 opponents on the road over the past five years, but this is a unique challenge and a different scenario for Utah. Michigan's starting quarterback situation is up in the air currently and might be an issue when the Utes come to town. Michigan is talented, but not Elite like Wisconsin, Ohio State or Michigan State at this point. The Utes can win this game, but it's going to be tight one if they do.

Projected Winner: Michigan
Utah (2-1)

9/27 Washington State

Previous Week's Opponent: Oregon (as WSU)
Next Opponent: Cal

If things go well in the non-conference season, the Utes open up against WSU in a game that is very winnable. This opening game is a must win for the Utes as WSU will be one of their best matchups in the conference and Utah needs a shot of confidence with a Pac-12 win. Connor Halliday, who torched the Utes last season, will be returning to Rice Eccles knowing he can beat Utah, but he's haunted by the butt kicking he took two years earlier. WSU's offensive line could be a mess as they are expected to replace four starters on the line. Utah's corners will be improved and from what Halliday saw in 2013. If the Utes can get pressure on Halliday and improve their ability to convert on turnovers, they have a great chance of starting the Pac-12 season off at 1-0.

Projected Winner: Utah (3-1)

10/4 at UCLA

Previous Week's Opponent: At ASU on Thursday 9/25
Next Opponent: Oregon

The Utes have been strong against UCLA over the past three seasons and I see the same occurring this year, but the odds are certainly in the Bruins favor. Hundley is back, as well as a host of other talented offensive players for UCLA. There will be new players stepping in on the defensive side for the Bruins, but overall, UCLA is stacked from top to bottom. UCLA should be considered a front-running contender for the Pac-12 Championship and will be tough for any opponent. Are there advantages for Utah in this game? The Utes are sandwiched in between a tough run for the Bruins who will play at ASU the week before and face Oregon the week after. If UCLA plays a clean game and protects the ball, then expect the Utes to fall to 3-2.

Projected Winner: UCLA
Utah (3-2)

10/11 BYE

10/16 at Oregon State (Thursday)

Previous Week's Opponent: At Colorado (10/4)
Next Opponent: at Stanford

The Utes passed up on a golden opportunity for a win in 2013 when the Beavers came to Rice Eccles and hopefully revenge will be on the Ute's mind as they travel to Corvalis. The good news? Brandin Cooks is off to the NFL. The bad news? Sean Mannion is not. Without Mannion however, this is a pretty even matchup of programs, coaching and players. The country will be watching, as this game will likely get a nationally televised audience. Utah's offense, now in its sixth game is starting to show progress and the Beavers weak defense gives Utah's offense a strong advantage.

Projected Winner: Utah (4-3)

10/25 USC

Previous Week's Opponent: Colorado
Next Opponent: WSU

Will this be the year that the Utes finally break through against the Trojans? Nope. Sark should have his team in decent form by this point of the season and the talent level is just too much for the Utes to overcome. Scheduling really hurts Utah in this one. Utah falls into an easier part of USC's schedule as they are sandwiched between Colorado and WSU. The Ute's chances for a win would have increased had the game hit earlier in the season, but as a mid-season matchup, USC will prove too tough for Utah. It will be a tight game for three quarters, but the Utes won't have enough to win it in the end. USC's defensive line will be harassing Utah's QB all night as the offense stalls.

Projected Winner: USC
Utah (4-3)

11/01 at Arizona State

Previous Week's Opponent: at Washington
Next Opponent: Notre Dame

Pac-12 road wins have been a huge challenge for the Utes, but this game actually gives Utah a fighting chance. The Utes know they can beat the Sun Devils after a close loss in 2013. ASU will be facing the Utes during the toughest part of their schedule. Taylor Kelly will be back and likely better than ever with an improving defense on the other side of the ball.

Projected Winner: ASU
Utah (4-4)

11/08 OREGON

Previous Week Opponent: Stanford
Next Opponent: BYE, then Colorado

Oregon comes into this game after another physical matchup with Stanford. Oregon could have a let down similar to what we saw last year at Arizona where the Wildcats dismantled the Ducks. Oregon historically weakens as the season progresses, but they have Mariota and a host of talent around him that will be too much for Utah's defense to handle. The Utes keep it close through three quarters, but the Ducks pull away late in a blow out. Call this a loss for Utah, but wouldn't be surprised if Utah get's an upset even though it's not being projected here.

Projected Winner: Oregon
Utah (4-5)

11/15 at STANFORD

Previous Week's Opponent: BYE
Next Opponent: Cal

Now with a losing record, the Utes travel to Palo Alto to play a motivated and well prepared Stanford team. The Utes, who have been beaten and battered by USC, ASU and Oregon the previous weeks just don't have enough in the tank to make it close. The Utes get blown out by the Cardinal in an embarrassing loss.

Projected Winner: Stanford
(Utah 4-6)


Previous Week Opponent: Washington
Next Opponent: at Arizona St

Ka'Deem Carey will be gone…enough said. It snows like crazy, the Utes are fighting to become bowl eligible and pull out a win. Did we mention that Carey was gone?

Projected Winner: Utah (5-6)

11/29 at COLORADO

Previous Week's Opponent: Oregon

It all comes down to one game to see if the Utes can go bowling and unlike previous seasons, it will be determined in the final game on the road. Utah has beaten Colorado on the road before, but in meaningless games. Colorado's season will be over and they look to play the spoiler against their hated rival. While the game is close, Utah's physical play, improving defense and a stroke of luck get it done.

Projected Winner: Utah (6-6)

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