After winning the 2017 Heart of Dallas Bowl, the Utah Utes have now posted four straight winnings seasons and won a bowl game in each of those years as well. The Utes have had winning seasons in five of the seven years since they joined the Pac-12, but their win total has dropped (10, 9, 7) in each of the past three seasons.
Utes 2018 regular season win total
Utah 2018 regular season win total
Over 7 (-115)
Under 7 (-115)
Odds courtesy of BetDSI Sportsbook.
What Happened Last Year
The Utes had a roller coaster of a year in 2017. After starting off the season 4-0, Utah dropped six of its next seven games. The Utes then got back on track and closed the regular season with a win over Colorado and capped the campaign with a bowl win over West Virginia.
Utah was incredibly inconsistent last season, but that’s what happens with young teams and that growth that results from those inconsistencies, could pay big dividends in 2018.
What Will Change This Year
If youth was a weakness n 2017, experience will be the Utes strength in 2018. Utah brings back 18 players with starting experience, including quarterback Tyler Huntley.
Huntley showed dual-threat capabilities as he passed for 2,411 yards and rushed for 537 last year. He did throw 10 interceptions to go with 15 touchdowns, but seven of those interceptions came in just two games. The Utes will be losing its top two receivers, but juniors Siaosi Mariner and Demari Simpkins each caught 20 or more balls for over 350 yards last season, so it’s not as if the Utes don’t being back any experience.
The same holds true on the defensive line, where just one starter returns, but everal rotational players will be back to fill in. The Utes will have an older team this season and should be able to rely on that experience to produce aother winning year.
Outlook & Prediction
Not only do the Utes have a bunch of returning starters coming back – something extremely valuable in college football – but they have a favorable schedule. The Utes open up against Weber State and on the road against Northern Illinois and although the third non-conference game, against BYU, will be toug, Utah still has a chance to get to eight wins.
Opening Pac-12 play against Washington is no easy task, but that’s where having an experienced team comes into play as the players won’t still be learning the schemes. The Utes also get a late September road game against Washington State (before the weather gets really bad) and a November road game at Arizona State (after the heat has died down a bit). Utah also gets an extra day to prep for USC after hosting Arizona on a Friday. Utah may very well end up pushing this, but the over looks to be play here. Take it.
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