When is it too early to start dissecting the 2017 football schedule? Whenever it was, it is behind us ...
We’re taking a look at some of the most important games each Pac-12 team has waiting for it in the fall: the must-wins and the trap games. Next up: Utah
Must-win game: UCLA, Nov. 3
Utah has the unfortunate distinction of being the only team in the Pac-12 South never to advance to the conference title game. Is this the year that changes? After Colorado’s surprise run to the division title, nothing is off the table, and the Utes certainly would be easier to see coming than the Buffs were last year. Over the past three seasons, the only Pac-12 team with more wins than Utah (28) is Stanford (30). For the Utes to finally win the division outright, there are obviously several must-wins, but we’re singling out UCLA because it’s unlikely to be a game the Utes can afford to drop. They might be able to win the division with two or even three losses, but they miss Oregon State and Cal, so it’s not a forgiving schedule. If they lose to UCLA, the margin for error against teams like USC, Stanford and Washington is even smaller.
Trap game: at Arizona, Sept. 22
It shouldn’t be hard to get up for the conference opener, but after not getting on a plane for the first three weeks of the season – vs. North Dakota, at BYU, vs. San Jose State – the Utes get a Friday game in Tucson. Granted, it will be at night, but Tucson in September isn’t exactly the most inviting place for opponents. Right now, Arizona doesn’t figure to be among the better teams in the conference, which is why it qualifies as a trap game. We have to allow for the possibility that Arizona will improve, and with it being the first conference game of the season, this game will be telling in that regard.
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