Kyle Whittingham and the Utah Utes join the Pac-10 in 2011.
The 2010 football season will be Utah’s last in the Mountain West Conference after accepting an offer to join the Pac-10. After a solid 10-3 overall record in 2009, including going 6-2 in conference play, the Utes are looking to go out on a high note by challenging for the MWC title with another strong performance this year.
Utah's 10-3 straight up mark in 2009 only resulted in a 6-7 record against the spread. Eight of the Utes' 13 games went 'under' at the window. Utah is currently a very long shot to win the BCS at plus 12500 odds at TheGreek.com.
Much of their chances at a title run will revolve around the success of the high-powered NCAAF college offense. With eight starters returning from last year’s squad, Utah should once again be able to put some points on the board just as in 2009 when it averaged close to 30 points a game.
The QB situation is still up in the air as the starting spot may be shared between Terrance Cain and Jordan Wynn. Last year Cain was the starter for most of the season until head coach Kyle Whittingham decided to go with Wynn down the stretch. Neither player clearly won the job this spring, so expect to see both behind center in 2010.
Another question mark on offense is who the primary runner out of the backfield will be. Matt Asiata, who went down with a knee injury in the fourth game last year, is expected to be ready to go by the season opener. The Utes also have very capable runners in Eddie Wide and Sausan Shakerin. Wide filled in admirably for Asiata last season gaining 1,069 yards on 203 carries. As a true freshman, Shakerin opened some eyes by running for 100 yards in a game against New Mexico.
As for as the receivers, WR Jerome Brooks and TE Kendrick Moeai will be the primary targets. In 2009 Brooks averaged 4.31 receptions per game and ended the season with 696 receiving yards, second best on the team.
The true strength of this offense is up front with four starters from last year’s team back. Center Zane Taylor, guards Caleb Schlauderaff and Tevita Stevens and tackle Tony Bergstrom give this offense the ability to efficiently run and throw the ball, making it very difficult to defend the Utes.
If Utah is to have any chance of getting past TCU and BYU in the conference, it is going to have to do a much better job on the NCAAF college defensive side of the ball. Only four starters are returning from last year, meaning a lot of new faces in the lineup. Fortunately the Utes have some experience up front with the return of DE Derrick Shelby and DT’s Sealver Siliga and Dave Kruger.
The main weakness could be in the secondary as CB Brandon Burton is the only player with any starting experience. With this many new players it will be vital that the defense comes together quickly and learns how to play as a cohesive unit.
Utah's schedule begins with a big test in the opener when the Utes host Pittsburgh. Later in the year, sandwiched between home games against TCU and Brigham Young, the Utes travel to South Bend to take on Notre Dame. If they can develop some stability at QB and the defense learns how to stop the run, all of these games are winnable. College football betting odds.
With this being Utah’s final year in the conference the motivation to go out on top will be high. But in reality this is still the Horned Frogs' conference to win or lose and I just do not see Utah getting by TCU in Week 9.