There are times in sports when circumstances beyond a team's control require that high expectations be adjusted and lowered. This is certainly one of those times for University of Utah football and its fans.
Football is a game of bounces, whether they be for good or bad, success or defeat. Utah is experiencing the bad and the defeat part after their 31-14 disappointing loss to Washington in Salt Lake City over the weekend.
Just as the football is shaped unevenly and its bounces can change a game on a fumble, so the luck and fate of a team can drastically change with one bad bounce in the form of a hard-hitting play or awkward fall causing an injury.
It was disastrous enough for the Utes on Saturday that both of those scenarios, bad fumbles (three in key spots) and a serious injury at a vital position (QB Jordan Wynn's left shoulder), took place, and by such, putting the Utes' sights on the Pac-12 title game out of sight and possibly even putting the accomplishment of six wins and going to a bowl game in some jeopardy.
It will yet be seen how the Utes respond to this most recent dose of adversity that came in almost a worst-case scenario last Saturday with the Utes' lack of depth at the quarterback spot and their need to open up their nine-week consecutive game stretch with a win at home over the Huskies in Utah's first Pac-12 home game.
Utah fans likely should hope for the best, but prepare for the worst, because it could get pretty ugly if Wynn is out for more than the two to three weeks that he has been prognosticated to be out. He will be re-evaluated after two to three weeks, and then it will be determined if he can play or if he will need more weeks to recover.
Utah's next three games in the next three weeks are against Arizona State in Salt Lake City, then the Utes take to the road to play at Pitt and at Cal. Without Wynn, and some type of resurgence in the offense and running game from what was going on on the field against Washington in the second half Saturday, the Utes could easily be looking at a 2-5 overall record and an 0-4 conference record after their game in San Francisco against Cal in three Saturdays from now.
That would be quite a drastically different picture from what most of the expectations for the Utes had set out for Utah's 2011 inaugural Pac-12 season, especially after a solid showing at USC that came down to the wire and a 54-10 blowout against rival BYU in Provo in the third week of the season.
Best advice for the Utes and their fans now is to have no expectations for the rest of the season and again, hope for the best, but prepare for the worst. Making a bowl game with six or seven wins and maybe even eight is not totally out of the picture, but neither is a 2-10 finish either.