clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

Better Know a 2017 Opponent: Utah

New, comments

Utah is filled with a lot of Utes this year. Get it?

NCAA Football: Utah at UCLA
This image lives on in my nightmares.
Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

When Utah and Colorado were added to the former Pac 10, one of the biggest made-up concerns was that neither team really had any history with the conference. This was especially true of Utah, which had never been a Power 5 school prior to joining. So allow me to retroactively rectify this by providing enough mean-spirited words to really get the UCLA-Utah rivalry going!

Except there’s going to be a sizeable portion dedicated to dunking on BYU instead #sorrynotsorry.

LAST YEAR

Utah did the thing they always do: win a bunch of games, pull off an upset or two, and fail to win the Pac 12 South. Did you know the Utes are the only team in the South that hasn’t played in the Pac 12 Title Game? It’s true! Still, Utah always manages to play close games against teams that should walk all over them thanks to a talent advantage, and will even win those games at times.

Joe Williams retired at one point last year, then unretired in time to run for 332 yards on the Bruins. I actually started laughing in the Rose Bowl while it happened because it was so dumb. THANK GOD HE’S NOT HERE ANYMORE!

THE FANS

The last time I was in a general US History class, and not one dedicated to a specific topic like Civil War Reconstruction or something equally entertaining, we were taught that Utah was founded by the Mormons.

Why bring that up? Because Utah’s chief rivalry is with BYU, and that absolutely colors my perception of Utah’s fans.

On the one hand, congratulations Utes! You didn’t go to BYU! You got to avoid the whole Honor Code thing, and thus got to, presumably, have a fun, normal college experience! On the other hand, I’m sorry about that rejection letter you got from BYU when you applied to college.

But seriously, I think I give Utah fans the benefit of the doubt in general because I don’t think I’ve ever had a single good interaction with a BYU fan. They’re very into themselves, and have a holier-than-thou attitude towards others. I’ve never drunk a beer more aggressively than I did a few years ago when the BYU family tailgating next to us rolled their eyes at our setup. It felt great, let me tell you. And this isn’t an “I hate Mormons thing”, this is a “I strongly dislike BYU fans and if I have to hear about how great Ty Detmer is one more time I’m going to scream.” Also, the reason you’re not in a Power 5 conference is that no one wants to hang out with you because you whine too much.

I cannot wait for the hate-mail from BYU fans over this Utah article.

But enough about BYU fans, let’s talk about their ugly step-brother (YEAH HOW DO YOU LIKE THAT HATE, UTAH FANS?!? THIS RIVALRY IS GOING TO GO PLACES!). Like I said, I think Utah fans are generally fine. Rice-Eccles Stadium seems very pleasant, and I would like to visit it one day. Or, I would, but that would require stepping foot in Utah again, and after a trip to Salt Lake City 13 years ago I vowed never again to visit the state.

I will say that the dumbest thing you do is your little third down tradition. You know, the one you see every time Utah forces a 3rd down on defense, where a student runs down the steps with that giant sign. The one that every broadcaster has to be required by law to show every single time it occurs. You guys should get a bell or bad bear roar like a respectable program.

THE COACHES

Here is a list of coaches that have won the Pac 12 South:

Jim Mora

Todd Graham

Rich Rodriguez

Clay Helton

Mike MacIntyre

Rick Neuheisel/Lane Kiffin (THE MYTHICAL DOUBLE-LOSER!)

Who’s name is not on that list? Kyle Whittingham. And yet Whit is considered the best coach in the division. Weird, right?

Whittingham gets a lot of credit for doing more with less aka being nega Jim Mora, but this is also Year 7 of Utah being in the conference, and at some point the national media should maybe start to question how Rich Rod can win the conference but Whittingham can’t. Also, if Utah struggles this year, which is possible considering almost their entire offense from last year is gone and their secondary is rebuilding, does Whittingham end up on the hot seat? Or rather, does Whittingham decide to finally leave? These are the questions that keep me up at night.

Utah did hire a new offensive coordinator this year, which is interesting only because the new guy doesn’t have a history of coaching boring offenses. He also doesn’t have a history of actually being offensive coordinator, so good luck with that one!

THE PLAYERS

Former Bruin Kylie Fitts is still here to wreck havoc for the Utes. Expect him to get close to 4 sacks during this game, as is tradition for all former Bruins playing against this team.

The Utes brought in failed Alabama quarterback Cooper Bateman to compete for the starting job now that Troy Williams and his middling passing ability are gone, but I’m not sure how bringing in the guy who couldn’t handle Alabama’s simple offense is going to help Utah’s new pass-happy offense. Should be fine!

Of course, no discussion of Utah’s players can end without discussing their current fun Aussie punter. The current model, Mitch Wishnowsky, will be with the team through next year, and is going for Utah’s 4th-straight Ray Guy award (his second). I have no jokes here - I think this dude is great.

FEARLESS PREDICTION

Wait, this game is on a Friday? Who planned this?

The double-whammy of playing Washington then Utah on short rest would normally be too much, but UCLA and Utah have traded wins at the other team’s stadium since 2012, so I might as well pick the Bruins to keep the streak alive.

Utah still probably finds a new running back to run for 200 yards on the Bruins.