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Everyone thought the Utes were going to beat Colorado last season. Three missed field goals and one panic fest later and the Utes lost to the “rival” Buffaloes. Had the Utes won, they would have played in the inaugural Pac-12 Championship game. This season, there is almost nothing at stake. How will the Utes react?
1. Where’s the motivation? This is the first time in a long time that Utah has not had anything to play for. Think about it. This is the first time that the Utah program has had a meaningless game in nearly a decade. That’s impressive, yet depressing for Ute fans. So what motivates the Utes on Friday? This is the first time in Kyle Whittingham’s head coaching career that he’ll have to figure out a way to motivate a team that has nothing to play for.
2. Wait, you circled what game on the schedule? Going into the season you may have thought that Ute coaches and players circled the USC game as the game to look forward to. Or maybe BYU. Maybe Cal after last season’s blowout loss in Berkeley. How about none of the above? It was the mighty 1-10 Colorado Buffaloes. Yep. Coaches have said that they circled the Colorado game after getting beat in heartbreaking fashion a season ago. Maybe this is a rivalry after all.
3. John White’s curtain call. The Utes will wave goodbye to one of the program's best running backs historically. White broke the Utah single-season rushing record last year and is now 127 yards away from another 1,000-yard season. A performance that would push White over the 1,000-yard mark would give the Utes a win and would be a fitting end to what now seems like a wasted career.
4. Outgoing confidence. This Utah team has a few very key playmakers who are very young. Quarterback Travis Wilson is the obvious one. Others include sophomore receiver Kenneth Scott, sophomore tight end Jake Murphy, freshman linebacker Jason Whittingham, sophomore linebacker V.J. Fehoko and sophomore safety Eric Rowe. If the Utes can improve their confidence against Colorado this week, it could go a long ways toward improvement going into 2013.
5. So you’re tellin’ me there’s a chance? Lloyd Christmas may have had a better chance with Mary Swanson than the Utes have to go bowling at 5-7, but it is possible. The Utes would go into a pool of 5-7 teams who would be considered for a bowl game if there aren’t enough .500 teams to fill all 3,486 bowl games. If that’s the case, teams that qualify according to an academic ratings system will be eligible to be selected by a bowl. Based on those ratings, the Utes would qualify to be considered. At that point, the bowl game would pick the team that it believes would bring the most fans and/or TV viewers. That is probably not going to be Utah, but it might be. There is a chance. And for those saying the Utes should turn down an offer if it did come just on principle, get a clue. Utah should, no question, accept the invitation. It’s another three weeks of much-needed practice for a very young team, and it makes for a great recruiting tool. Utah could then tell players that it went 5-7 and bowls still had enough respect for the Utes to select them.
Trevor Amicone is the founder of byutahinsiders.com, which covers BYU, Utah and national college football with weekly polls, bowl projections, opinions and analysis. Follow its brand new Twitter page at @BYUtahInsiders and Trevor's at @TrevorAmicone.