Utah Utes: Five Bold Predictions You Can Bank On

Brian NelsonCorrespondent IAugust 26, 2009

SALT LAKE CITY - NOVEMBER 22:  Max Hall #15 of the BYU Cougarsis sacked by Tatum Drecksel #47 of  the Utah Utes at Rice-Eccles Stadium on November 22, 2008 in Salt Lake City, Utah.  (Photo by Jonathan Ferrey/Getty Images)

1. Junior QB Terrance Cain will be named the starter come Sept. 3. 

With a crippling defense and a stable of talent at the other skilled positions, Utah will look for a competent game manager at QB who won't lose games. 

Ultimately, coach Kyle Whittingham will opt for the QB who makes the fewest mistakes and best avoids costly turnovers.

No one fits the bill better than Juco transfer Terrance Cain.

The 2008 NJCAA Offensive Player of the Year tossed 51 TDs and only 22 INTs while completing over 70 percent of his passes in his prolific career at Blinn Community College. 

While a drop off should be expected, Cain has at least demonstrated the efficiency Utah needs to move the chains, let the others around him make the big plays and keep the defense well-rested on the sidelines.

2. If Utah beats Oregon, a Mountain West team will receive a BCS berth.

With four non-BCS teams in the coaches' top 25 preseason poll, the non-BCS throng seems destined to bust the BCS again in 2009-10.

Of the four, Boise State has the highest preseason ranking and boasts the easiest schedule. But their BCS fate relies entirely on what happens in the Mountain West.

The Broncos' greatest challenge will be its season opener against the Oregon Ducks in Boise.

Even if Boise State wins, it will yield a BCS berth to the Mountain West if Utah can manage a win at Autzen and top Boise's best victory.

From there, the BCS invite will be up for grabs to whomever survives the slug-fest between TCU, BYU and Utah, and comes out with one loss or less.

Additionally, if Boise State loses at least once, and the Big East champion does not crack the top No. 17 in the BCS, don’t be surprised if a two-loss Mountain West team receives a BCS berth.

3. For just the second time in Ute history (2004), Utah will be in the top 25 from start to finish in 2009.

The Utes begin 2009 with their highest preseason rankings ever, coming in at No. 18 in the Coaches Poll and No. 19 in the AP.

Utah will open the season with a couple of warm-ups against Utah State and San Jose State prior to the showdown vs. Oregon. A road loss to a highly ranked Oregon team will not displace a 2-1 Utah from the top 25.

Following the trip to Eugene, Utah should be heavy favorites for the ensuing six games before a highly anticipated match-up against TCU.

During that six game span, the Utes will host Louisville, New Mexico, Air Force, and Wyoming and travel to UNLV and Colorado State.

The Nov. 14 brawl at TCU will be wrought with BCS implications, but even a loss to the Frogs won’t be enough to displace the Utes from the Top 25.

Coming off their greatest season ever, a full season in the Top 25 will send a strong message to recruits and to CFB nation that the Utes are here to stay on the national scene.

4. Don’t bother marking your calendar for the Holy War; Utah will win in Provo on Nov. 28.

Credit Utah’s speedy defense and innovative game plan for last year’s 48-24 drubbing over BYU. 

While the Cougars return a ton of offensive productivity, there won't be enough improvement to overcome a defense that completely stifled Max Hall and forced five interceptions.

In fact, BYU has never beaten a ranked Utah team.

5. Utah will be a BCS program by the time the 2010 recruits graduate.

Somewhere between congressional intervention, the continued emergence of the Mountain West, the decline of the Big East and the possible expansion of the Pac-10, something will give way and make Utah an official BCS program.

My sense is the Pac-10 will only come knocking if new Commissioner Larry Scott somehow feels threatened by the prospect of a second BCS conference in the west.


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