Oh boy. Fall is a great time of year. Utah opens their season tomorrow against the Maize and Blue in Ann Arbor. I wish I could be there, but I'll settle watching the game on network television. Expectations for both Utah and BYU are high this season, which makes the first game all the more exciting.
Utah has a veteran team. They return the majority of their starters on offense and are pretty solid at most defensive positions. Their biggest weakness is the defensive line. Their biggest strengths are probably the offensive line, quarterback/runningback and defensive back positions. If Brian Johnson, Brent Casteel (who, in all likelihood, will win the Heisman this year), Darrell Mack and the DBs can stay healthy, Utah should be fighting for the top spot in the conference come November.
Their biggest problem - getting up for the 'small' games. Utah has the uncanny ability of playing at the level of their opponent. Last season they beat a decent UCLA team and were then shutout by a bad UNLV team. They can't let stuff like that happen this year or they'll lose some of those 'gimme' games.
My thoughts on tomorrow's game? I think it's going to be a good one. Michigan will not blow Utah out. Utah will probably not blow Michigan out. Michigan is so unchallenged, so inexperienced and unknown that I like to think that Utah can come out and surprise them. Michigan will have the better athletes and depth but Utah will play more as a team. It's going to be a defensive struggle with Utah's seasoned offense moving the ball better on the Wolverines then they will on the Utes. I'm going with Herbstreit and Fowler on this one and picking the slight underdog - Utah by 7.
I got this sweet schedule from my brother-in-law's brother a couple of weeks ago (click on the picture below for an enlarged view). It's got all of the Division I teams schedules organized by conference. If you'd like one for yourself, I've made it available for download here.