How Tough is Utah Football’s Schedule?


Utah Utes played Oregon Ducks on Dec. 5, 2020 at Rice-Eccles Stadium in Salt Lake City. Utah won 30-24. (Photo by Ivana Martinez | The Daily Utah Chronicle)

By Eric Jensen, Sports Writer


The University of Utah’s football season is almost upon us and expectations for the team are high. So, what does the schedule look like and how will they stack up? I broke it down on a scale of 1-10, 1 being the easiest and 10 being the hardest.

Week 1 vs Weber State:

Weber State has been a great program over the last few years. Jay Hill has them contending for a national title at the FCS level almost every year, so it’s never going to be a cake walk. That said, the U outclasses them talent-wise, and I will be subtracting a point of difficulty with home field advantage. Opponent rank: 4

Week 2 at Brigham Young University:

Subtract a point for home games, add one for away games, especially in Provo. The Utes have dominated the rivalry for years but on paper, this BYU team is the most talented it has been over that time span despite losing Zach Wilson to the NFL. Jaren Hall is an extremely capable QB and to view this game as anything less than a toss up is incredibly naïve. Opponent Rank: 7

Week 3 at San Diego State:

San Diego State will once again have a stout defense but QB play will be a real issue for them. Opponent rank: 5

Week 4 at Washington State:

Wazzu is still very much in a rebuilding era. Running back Max Borghi will be a fun player to watch but the talent gap between Utah and the program in Pullman this year is almost as stark as that of Weber State. Opponent rank: 5

Week 5 at USC:

USC will always boast great talent. There are many who believe Kedon Slovis is not only the best QB in the Pac-12 but also a Heisman contender. The Utes also haven’t won at the Coliseum since the early 1900s; 1916 was the last time the Utes won against the Trojans in Los Angeles. This is Utah’s biggest game of the year nationally, and it is also their hardest. If Clay Helton wasn’t the one on the other sideline, this game would get a ten, but instead it gets a nine. Opponent rank: 9

Week 6 vs Arizona State:

Despite off-field issues, the Sun Devils remain one of the most talented rosters in the Pac-12 South. I have an affinity for Jayden Daniels; I think he is the best QB in the Pac-12; he will emerge this year a first round draft pick, and in the process make sure Arizona State is contending for a Pac-12 Championship. The fact this game is in Salt Lake gives the edge to the Utes, though. Opponent rank: 7

Week 7 at Oregon State:

A rebuilding program. Could be a lot better in 2021 but still doesn’t stack up to the talent the Utes have across the board. Opponent rank: 6

Week 8 vs UCLA:

Chip Kelly year four, I am a believer. I think UCLA will be one of the most competitive teams in the Pac-12 this year; expect them to beat LSU early in their non-conference schedule. Dorian Thompson-Robinson could perform his way toward being the best QB in the Pac-12. UCLA will be a tough out and if this game was in California I would have to think long and hard about who to pick in a toss up game. The fact that the Utes get the Bruins at home helps. Opponent rank: 7

Week 9 at Stanford:

At some point, David Shaw has to lose the benefit of the doubt, it is a put-up or shut-up season for his program this year. They should have the talent, whether they put it all together or not is yet to be seen. Opponent rank: 7

Week 10 at Arizona:

The easiest game on the Utes’ schedule. Vegas has Arizona’s over-under win total set at one and a half. This is a team in total rebuild mode, they won’t be competitive this year. Opponent rank: 4

Week 11 vs Oregon:

The best program in the Pac-12, who Kyle Whittingham’s team has failed to beat in big-time games. If there is one criticism of Whittingham, it’s that he hasn’t been able to win the big ones. This qualifies as a big one: late in the season, a potential Pac-12 Championship preview.

Oregon is built the way Whittingham wants to build his program: like an SEC squad from the trenches. It helps that this game is at home but Oregon is so good they are the only team on the schedule that gets a perfect 10. Opponent rank: 10.

Week 12 vs Colorado:

The Buffs are a program on the rise. Despite losing their QB from last year they should be extremely competitive this year. Opponent rank: 7.


Average Difficulty of Schedule: 6.5/10

The Utes schedule as seen on this score is average, which should be considered relatively easy compared to most years. They miss Cal and Washington out of the North and get UCLA at home. The meat of the schedule comes on the back-to-back USC and ASU run. If the Utes can simply survive that stretch and go 1-1 in those games they will have an excellent shot of winning the South. However, if the Utes win both those games and remain undefeated going into Oregon, they will have a legitimate shot of contending for the NCAA college football playoffs.


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