SALT LAKE CITY — Now that the college football regular season has ended, it’s time to review my fearless — and in one case, completely off base — predictions that were published in August.
For the three FBS programs in Utah, this season was less than satisfying. Two of the teams, as I saw it, underachieved, with one of them being an embarrassment of epic proportions.
Let’s first start with the bad news, working back to the one forecast that actually happened.
Looking back, my statement that follows was absolutely ridiculous: “With this schedule, anything less than 9-4 will be a disappointment.”
The thinking behind it concluded the Cougars would roll off a series of wins after getting through a difficult September. Little did we know several pitfalls awaited a team that was incapable of beating some of the worst FBS competition.
In what now looks stupid, I thought BYU would finish the season on a long winning streak. Instead, the team lost seven consecutive games and split the last six games.
The initial thought was the Cougars would probably lose to LSU, Utah and Wisconsin but then feast on the perceived cupcakes. Nobody could have expected such struggles against the likes of East Carolina and Massachusetts.
Not to say the defense was stellar all season, but obviously the BYU offense was awful. The disconnect between Ty Detmer and the players resulted in the offensive coordinator losing his job after only two seasons.
Without substantial improvement from the offense next season, Detmer won’t be the only casualty off this coaching staff. Going into his third season, coach Kalani Sitake might have to get BYU into a bowl game to keep his job.
Accounting for the heavy losses off of the 2016 team, including four each across the offensive line and in the secondary, the Utes were going to digress this season after going 9-4 the year before.
My pick was 7-5, which the Utes failed to achieve by finishing at 6-6. Predicting the outcomes before the season, the only game I missed was the loss to Arizona State.
In a surprise, the Sun Devils came into Rice-Eccles Stadium and dominated Utah on the way to a 30-10 win in a game that was not as close as the score indicated. One week later, the Utes also got hammered in a loss to Oregon.
Utah’s season was a mixture of frustration and missed opportunities. Two of the losses came by a total of four points to Stanford and USC, the two teams that played in the Pac-12 championship game. Then there was the three-point loss to Washington in a game the Utes controlled before falling apart in the last two minutes.
The decision to start sophomore Tyler Huntley at quarterback over incumbent senior Troy Williams also produced mixed results. At his best, which came against the lesser competition, Huntley was a dynamic runner and a pinpoint passer.
But his durability was an issue, as injuries forced Huntley to miss three games and part of another. With only a redshirt freshman and an incoming freshman providing the depth, assuming no other quarterbacks are brought in, keeping Huntley healthy next season will be a paramount concern.
Along with Huntley, several Utes on both sides of the football have significant experience that should pay off next season. Depending on if the quarterbacks for USC and UCLA leave early for the NFL, the Utes should return to contention next season.
Coming off a 3-9 season, with his job probably on the line, coach Matt Wells guided the Aggies to a 6-6 record and a berth in the Arizona Bowl against New Mexico State. No surprise there — USU did exactly as forecasted.
The Aggies had an interesting season, getting blown out on the road to Wisconsin and Wake Forest and at home to Boise State. They also gave away games in close losses to Wyoming and Air Force.
With several players next season, led by freshman quarterback Jordan Love, expectations will increase. A .500 record overall and in the Mountain West (4-4) won’t be good enough in 2018, even if it was this time.
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