1. UTAH WIN TOTAL PREDICTION: WHAT’S GOING TO HAPPEN
Here’s the problem. Utah will be better than the 2018 version, but USC will be better than its 2018 version, too. So will UCLA, so will Colorado, and so will Arizona.
Here’s the positive. Utah is almost certainly going to be better than all four of those fellow Pac-12 South teams, and it gets Arizona State at home.
Yeah, there’s a date at Washington to deal with, but there’s no Oregon to face from the North. There’s no Stanford, either, and Washington State and Cal have to come to Salt Lake City.
The non-conference slate? Whatever … win the Holy War over in Provo against BYU, and Northern Illinois and Idaho State will be a piece of cake.
But even with a promising schedule that has a slew of key breaks …
Set The Regular Season Win Total At … 8
Again, most of the Pac-12 South will be stronger. That doesn’t mean Utah can’t and won’t win it – everyone is going to beat each other up in the conference – but there will be a miss or two like the Arizona State loss last year, or the Arizona State loss in 2017, or the loss to Cal in 2016 – that will screw things up a bit.
Utah will lose at USC because it’s USC in Los Angeles, it’ll almost certainly lose at Washington, and throw in a random misfire – at Arizona in late November seems about right – into the equation.
However, beat USC and/or Washington, and then this season takes on a whole different tone. The talent really is there to beat anyone and everyone on the slate, as long as that talent stays healthy.
The defense will to be another brick wall against the run and returns a terrific-looking secondary. As long as the O doesn’t turn the ball over in bunches, and if it can consistently hit the 30-point mark – the program is 19-1 over the last three seasons and 8-0 last year when doing that – it’s going to be a major player again.
Don’t underestimate this Ute team, and be prepared to pivot on that win total in a hurry. It’s not going to be under the eight-win mark and it just might go way, way over if the rest of the Pac-12 South isn’t ready for primetime yet.