Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Explanation for the lack of posts.

On August 12, 2014, I was involved in a serious accident.  I wasn't seriously injured, but I was injured and my recovery has taken longer and become more complicated than I imagined it would be.  I have also been assisting in the care of my mother who recently had a serious stroke.  Life has gotten in the way of this blog.

But here are my impressions on how the college football season has gone so far for our Utah teams.

BYU has been impressive on offense and defense.  The last year they started this well in both scoring points and defense was 1977.  However, that all ended when Gifford Nielsen suffered a season-ending injury at Oregon State.  I'm not going to call BYU's season this year a special one, yet.  Let's see if they are still unbeaten after the Central Florida game.

My prediction: 10-2 and not quite in a big bowl game.


Utah is better on offense this year...but defense?  The defense looked better for most of the Fresno State game.  But the Bulldogs did score 20 points after the game was out of reach.  However, those points were scored against the scrubs.  Fresno is rebuilding this year, and was probably not best test for the Utes.  Idaho State's Xavier Finney ran for 133 yards.  Something that should have never happened.  Michigan will provide a healthy test for Utah on both sides of the ball.  Win or lose, we will learn a lot about the Utes next week.  If Utah played California instead of Oregon, I would be confident that they would be in a bowl game this year.

My prediction: 5-7

Utah State was embarrassed at Tennessee.  There is no panic in Logan, just yet.  Tennessee is not exactly what they were when Payton Manning played there.  But they were good enough to win the way they did against USU.  The Aggies have to improve if they are to win the Mountain Division.  Right now, Boise State looks like a loss.  Colorado State, who is improved, could beat them as that game is in Fort Collins.  That would still put them in a bowl game, but not one they would like to go to.

My prediction: 9-4 and the Armed Forces Bowl

Weber State looks improved.  They were blown out by Arizona State, which should surprise no one.  They came close, for 3 quarters, to upsetting North Dakota State.  They have a winnable game this week against Sacramento State.  Hopefully the first win of the Jay Hill era.

My prediction: 4-8

Southern Utah looks lost so far this season.  But they can get back on track when they come home to face South Dakota State.  It is a must-win game for the Thunderbirds because you don't want to host Weber State looking for your first win of the season.  Especially if the Wildcats have already have their first W under their belt.

My prediction: 4-8

For this week, I expect BYU will pull out a close victory against Houston.  Utah State will win a nail biter against Wake Forest.  Southern Utah will lose to South Dakota State.  And Weber State will get a W against Sacramento State.

Power Rankings

FBS Independents

1.  Notre Dame
2.  BYU
3.  Navy
4.  Army

PAC-12

1.  Oregon
2.  Stanford
3.  UCLA
4.  USC
5.  Arizona State
6.  Washington
7.  Arizona
8.  Utah
9.  Oregon State
10. California
11. Colorado
12. Washington State

Mountain West

1.  San Diego State
2.  Boise State
3.  Utah State
4.  Colorado State
5.  Fresno State
6.  San Jose State
7.  Nevada
8.  UNLV
9. Wyoming
10. Air Force
11. Hawaii
12. New Mexico

Great Big Super Huge Sky.

1.  Montana
2.  Eastern Washington
3.  Montana State
4.  Cal Poly
5.  Northern Arizona
6.  Portland State
7.  Sacramento State
8.  Southern Utah
9.  UC Davis
10. Northern Colorado
11. Weber State
12. North Dakota
13. Idaho State

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Labor Day Weekend '14 Preview

Weber State at Arizona State
Idaho State at Utah

My feelings are the same for both these games are the same.  When a good FCS team plays an average Mountain West team, the FCS team has succeeded if the other team is still playing starters in the 2nd half.  But these games feature 2 lower-tier Big Sky schools against 2 PAC-12 teams.  If the PAC-12 stars are still wearing helmets in the 2nd quarter, it's a big time moral victory.

My prediction
Arizona State 70 Weber State 3
Utah 49 Idaho State 0

BYU at Connecticut

The Huskies are a big unknown.  BYU often has trouble opening on the road against a team they 'should' beat.  Nothing is a given, however, and that includes the Cougars in game 1.  They could go back east and come home with an easy victory.  They could be looking ahead to next week's match-up against Texas.  It's hard to guess.  But my gut feeling is that this will be a closer than they want it to be win for the Cougars.


BYU 28 UConn 17

Southern Utah at Nevada

For now, the Wolfpack have their best days behind them.  They have some good weapons, but no consistency.  SUU is not favored in this one, and they are debuting a new offense and a new quarterback.  But it could be close.

Nevada 35 SUU 21

Utah State at Tennessee

There are many predicting the Aggies to win this one.  Remember that this is still SEC country and that a big crowd will be pulling for the Volunteers.  USU will need to score early and often to get the crowd out of the game.  A couple of Tennessee turnovers might be nice.

Tennessee 24 Utah State 21

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Utah 2014 Preview

What are your honest expectations of the Utah team in 2014?  Most people expect the Utes to get to a bowl game.  I hope that is more of a hope than an expectation.  But let's examine the schedule.  The Utes should beat Idaho State and Fresno State at home.  They should also beat Washington State at home and Colorado on the road.  In order for Utah to go to a bowl game in 2014, the Utes will have to win games that they are not expected to win.

Yes, they beat Stanford at home last year.  But if they had also beaten Washington State on the road, a game that they should have won, they would have gone bowling.  In addition to winning games that no one expects them to win, they should also win the games that they are supposed to win. 

Utah may end up with the toughest schedule in the country in 2014.  But if they do not win at least 6 games, they will be searching for a new coach in 2015?  Maybe.  Kyle Whittingham is the same guy who led the team to an undefeated 2008.  That will probably not go noticed.  This is a what have you done for me lately world.  And what has Coach Whit done lately?

But going back to 2008.  You looked at the schedule and thought that Utah was probably going to finish the regular season 9-3.  They were taking on Michigan in the Big House.  They had TCU and they had Max Hall and the same Cougars who beat them the two seasons prior.  Not only did Utah win these three games, but also surprised Alabama in the Sugar Bowl.  All that Utah needs to do in 2014 is find 2 more games they can win.

Thursday
Aug. 28
Bengals Idaho State Bengals
Rice-Eccles Stadium, Salt Lake City, UT
8:30 p.m. MT
Pac-12 Networks
Buy
Tickets
Saturday
Sept. 6
Bulldogs Fresno State Bulldogs
Rice-Eccles Stadium, Salt Lake City, UT
1:00 p.m. MT
Pac-12 Networks
Buy
Tickets
Saturday
Sept. 13
--- Open Date --- ---
Saturday
Sept. 20
Wolverines at Michigan Wolverines
Michigan Stadium, Ann Arbor, MI
TBA Buy
Tickets
Saturday
Sept. 27
Cougars Washington State Cougars (HC)
Rice-Eccles Stadium, Salt Lake City, UT
TBA Buy
Tickets
Saturday
Oct. 4
Bruins at UCLA Bruins
Rose Bowl, Los Angeles, CA
TBA Buy
Tickets
Saturday
Oct. 11
--- Open Date --- ---
Thursday
Oct. 16
Beavers at Oregon State Beavers
Reser Stadium, Corvallis, OR
8:00 p.m. MT
FOX Sports 1
Buy
Tickets
Saturday
Oct. 25
Trojans USC Trojans
Rice-Eccles Stadium, Salt Lake City, UT
TBA Buy
Tickets
Saturday
Nov. 1
Sun Devils at Arizona State Sun Devils
Sun Devil Stadium, Tempe, AZ
TBA Buy
Tickets
Saturday
Nov. 8
Ducks Oregon Ducks
Rice-Eccles Stadium, Salt Lake City, UT
TBA Buy
Tickets
Saturday
Nov. 15
Cardinal at Stanford Cardinal
Stanford Stadium, Stanford, CA
TBA Buy
Tickets
Saturday
Nov. 22
Wildcats Arizona Wildcats
Rice-Eccles Stadium, Salt Lake City, UT
TBA Buy
Tickets
Saturday
Nov. 29
Buffaloes at Colorado Buffaloes
Folsom Field, Boulder, CO
TBA Buy
Tickets

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Utah State Football 2014 Preview

Every day, I drive by a billboard in Layton on my way home from work, that says "The Climb Continues."  Let's enjoy the view, then, shall we!

First, and foremost, Chukie Keeton returns from injury for his senior season.  He has good company in the backfield and targets to throw to...well, those that aren't in trouble with the law.  However, USU doesn't have a lot of starters from last year's team, unless you count those that filled in for injured players.  The Aggies should be fine, and I am not the only one who wonders why Boise State was picked to finish first in the MW Mountain division.  Perhaps reputation still means something.  USU will have the chance to change that perception on November 29 on the Blue Turf.

So folks, go buy some tickets and see the Aggies.

Sunday
Aug. 31
Volunteers at Tennessee Volunteers
Neyland Stadium, Knoxville, TN
5:00 p.m. MT
SEC Network
Buy
Tickets
Saturday
Sept. 6
Bengals Idaho State Bengals
Romney Stadium, Logan, UT
6:00 p.m. MT
MWN
Buy
Tickets
Saturday
Sept. 13
Demon Deacons Wake Forest Demon Deacons
Romney Stadium, Logan, UT
5:00 p.m. MT
CBSSN
Buy
Tickets
Saturday
Sept. 20
Indians at Arkansas State Red Wolves
Centennial Bank Stadium, Jonesboro, AR
TBA ---
Saturday
Sept. 27
--- Open Date TBA ---
Friday
Oct. 3
Cougars at BYU Cougars
LaVell Edwards Stadium, Provo, UT
8:15 p.m. MT
ESPN
Buy
Tickets
Saturday
Oct. 11
Falcons Air Force Falcons
Romney Stadium, Logan, UT
Time TBA
ESPN Network TBA
Buy
Tickets
Saturday
Oct. 18
Rams at Colorado State Rams
Hughes Stadium, Ft. Collins, CO
5:00 p.m. MT
CBSSN
Buy
Tickets
Saturday
Oct. 25
Rebels UNLV Rebels
Romney Stadium, Logan, UT
Time TBA
ESPN Network TBA
Buy
Tickets
Saturday
Nov. 1
Warriors at Hawaii Rainbow Warriors
Aloha Stadium, Honolulu, HI
9:00 p.m. MT
TV TBA
Buy
Tickets
Friday
Nov. 7
Cowboys at Wyoming Cowboys
War Memorial Stadium, Laramie, WY
6:00 p.m. MT
ESPN2
Buy
Tickets
Saturday
Nov. 15
Lobos New Mexico Lobos
Romney Stadium, Logan, UT
Time TBA
ESPN Network TBA
Buy
Tickets
Friday
Nov. 21
Spartans San Jose State Spartans
Romney Stadium, Logan, UT
7:30 p.m. MT
ESPN2
Buy
Tickets
Saturday
Nov. 29
Broncos at Boise State Broncos
Albertson's Stadium, Boise, ID
Time TBA
ESPN Network TBA
Buy
Tickets


Likely Wins
Idaho State, Wake Forest, Arkansas State, BYU, Air Force, Colorado State, UNLV, Hawaii, Wyoming, New Mexico, San Jose State, Boise State

Likely Loss
Tennessee

Best Case Scenario
12-0

Most Likely Scenario
11-1

Worst Case Scenario
7-5

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Weber State Football 2014 Preview

Weber State begins the 2014 season with a 4 different head coach in the 2010's.  That lack of stability has taken its toll on the team.  It hard to fathom, but worth saying again.  This year's Wildcat seniors are playing for their 4th different head coach.  And, it is also hard to fathom, but the new regime on has one assist coach who was on the sidelines in 2010: Tight End Coach Colton Swan.  Everyone else on the WSU sideline is new to the program.

Weber State was picked to be in the bottom 4 of the conference by both the press and the media.  That is the kind of respect that has been lost for this program.  Of all of the talent on the team, only DB Deon'Tea Florence was given all-conference honors.

It is interesting that a defensive player was given this honor.  Last season, the defense was dismal.  They gave up more than 30 points in 10 of the 12 games they played.  To end this futility, new head coach Jay Hill brought in Justin Ena from Southern Utah to coordinate the defense.  He also hired away Ed Lamb's other coordinator Steve Clark.  Last Season, WSU scored more than 20 points on 4 occasions.  The offense played well enough, possibly, to only earn another potential win.  Both sides of the ball need improving if WSU is going to win more than 2 games in 2014.

The schedule looks like a team that doesn't expect much this season.  There are only 5 home games, with just one in September.  Which means that 4 of the first 5 are on the road.  The lone home games is against MVFC power North Dakota State.  Not the way to build confidence in a struggling team.  It is not likely, that WSU will win a game before Veteran's Day.

With the state of college football today, if Jay Hill doesn't turn around the Wildcats, he may be the last football coach in WSU history.

2014 Schedule:

Date Opponent Location Time (MST) Results Media
  Thu, Aug 28  at Arizona State Tempe, AZ   8:30 p.m.
Pac-12 Network   KLO 1430 AM
External Live Event
  Sat, Sep 06  North Dakota State Ogden   6:00 p.m.
Altitude TV   KLO 1430 AM
External Live Event External Live Event
  Sat, Sep 13  at Sacramento State Sacramento, CA   7:00 p.m.
  KLO 1430 AM External Live Event External Live Event
  Sat, Sep 20  at Stephen F. Austin Nacogdoches, TX   5:00 p.m.
  KLO 1430 AM External Live Event
  Sat, Sep 27  at Southern Utah * Cedar City, UT   6:00 p.m.
  KLO 1430 AM External Live Event External Live Event
  Sat, Oct 11  Cal Poly * Ogden, UT   1:00 p.m.
  KLO 1430 AM External Live Event External Live Event
  Sat, Oct 18  at Montana State * Bozeman, MT   3:30 p.m.
  KLO 1430 AM External Live Event External Live Event
  Sat, Oct 25  Portland State * Ogden, UT   1:00 p.m.
  KLO 1430 AM External Live Event External Live Event
  Sat, Nov 01  Northern Arizona * Ogden, UT   1:00 p.m.
  KLO 1430 AM External Live Event External Live Event
  Sat, Nov 08  at North Dakota * Grand Forks, ND   11:00 a.m.
  KLO 1430 AM External Live Event External Live Event
  Sat, Nov 15  Northern Colorado * Ogden, UT   1:00 p.m.
  KLO 1430 AM External Live Event External Live Event
  Sat, Nov 22  at Idaho State * Pocatello, ID   2:30 p.m.
  KLO 1430 AM External Live Event External Live Event
* Conference Games
(Courtesy: WeberStateSports.com)


Best Case Scenario: 5-7
Projected Finish: 2-10.
Worst Case Scenario: 0-12

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Southern Utah 2014 Preview

There were some changes on the SUU staff this off-season.  There was a lot of hubub about former BYU head coach Gary Crowton landing in Cedar City and former BYU backup Ammon Olsen transferring for his senior season.  This was after Justin Ena and Steve Clark left Cedar City for Weber State and Ogden.

For those of you looking to make a big deal of Crowton's coming remember there must be a reason why the former top assistant at LSU is now at SUU.  This is not the career path most good coaches make.  The reason is that he has found little success in his jobs since leaving Baton Rouge.  As for Olsen, well, he was just looking for the playing time he wasn't going to get backing up Taysom Hill. 

Changes needed to be made in Cedar City, in spite of recent successes, especially on offense.  There were many reason why SUU made the FCS playoffs for the first time ever in 2013, but the play of Quarterback Aaron Kantu and the rest of the Thunderbird offense were not among them.  The only thing the offense did well was not turn the ball over.  Usually, the defense and the special teams gave the offense good field position.  The offense usually didn't have to be spectacular.  When the offense had to be spectacular, they failed.  Hence, the first post-season romp ended ignominiously last year.

But who needs offense when you can win games on special teams and defense?  Can Demario Warren replace Justin Ena as the defense coordinator?  That is the real question in Cedar City this season. 

To return to the post-season in 2014, the Thunderbirds will need to pull off an upset in one of the four games where they will not be favored; either one of the FBS road games against Nevada or Fresno State or conference games against Cal Poly or Eastern Washington.  They will also need to win the games that they should win.  If they can do that, they will repeat last year's success. 

Schedule:

August 30 @ Nevada
September 6 @ Southeastern Louisiana
September 13 South Dakota State (HC)
September 20 @ Fresno State
September 27 Weber State
October 4 @ Cal Poly
October 11 Eastern Washington
October 18 @ Idaho State
October 25 North Dakota
November 8 @ Sacramento State
November 15 Montana
November 22 @ Northern Arizona

Worst-Case Scenario 4-8
Best-Case Scenario 9-3
Most Likely Scenario 8-4
(Likely Wins: S.E. Louisiana, South Dakota State, Weber State, Idaho State, North Dakota, Sacramento State, Montana and Northern Arizona.  Likely Losses: Nevada, Fresno State, Cal Poly and Eastern Washington.)

Most intriguing game of 2014.  September 27 vs. former assistants Ena and Clark and Weber State.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

The future of the MWC/Big Sky Conferences

The future of the Big Sky Conference as I see it today, July 14, 2014

To quote a famous guru from a popular movie series, 'always in motion, the future is."  Indeed it is difficult to see.  But how have things changed in the past few years.  One of the reasons the Big Sky Conference super-charged to 13 teams was the threat of teams moving up to the FBS.  I think that I am comfortable now crossing that threat off the list.

As the gap grows between the Power 5 conferences and the rest of the Football Bowl Subdivision, the gap between those other conferences in the FBS and the Football Championship Subdivision will shrink.  This is already evident as we saw how Southern Utah handled South Alabama last season.  We will see such victories by the Big Sky Conference football teams becoming more common in the future.  But victories against PAC-12 teams, those will begin to be even more rare than they are today.

Will the Big Sky Conference as a whole every catch up with the Mountain West Conference?  I doubt that.  Boise State will always be Boise State, Fresno State will always be Fresno State.  But don't be surprised to see teams like Wyoming and New Mexico being regularly schooled by the likes of Northern Arizona.  If say, Eastern Washington comes to Boise and upsets the Broncos on the blue turf, that game will become a rallying cry for the Broncos for the next several seasons.

The biggest threat to the Big Sky Conference is the WAC, but not in the way it was a few years ago.  It's the WAC without football, as in Big Sky schools dropping football.  In recent years; Weber State and Northern Arizona have had to fight to keep football.  There may be schools follow-through on threats to drop football and join the new WAC.  Especially as costs rise, even at the FCS level, schools will decide that dropping out is better than keeping up.

Another possible "threat" or "Opportunity" for the Big Sky is the resurrection of Big West Football, which is likely to be at the FCS level, if it happens.

As for the MWC, there are times of both opportunity and threat.  Odds are that there will never be a chance for the MWC to become a power conference.  Also, odds are that if you are not currently a member of a power conference, there will not be the chance to join.  From what I have read, the power conferences are in no mood to add anyone, including BYU, Boise State or Fresno State.  It appears that they are trying to get smaller, not larger.

This could be an opportunity for the MWC, which could become a real power conference in basketball.  But that is all speculation right now.  But for teams in the West who are not able to keep up with the spending of the rest of the power conferences, the MWC may end up a good landing place.

In 20 years, and this is my speculation, both the MWC and the Big Sky Conferences could look much different than they do today.

2035 Possible MWC

Air Force
Boise State
Fresno State
Iowa State
Kansas State


Nevada
New Mexico
Montana
UNLV
UTEP
San Diego State
Utah State

Dropping Out to the FCS:
Colorado State
Wyoming
Hawaii
San Jose State

2035 Possible Big Sky

Eastern Washington
Central Washington
Colorado State
Dixie State
Idaho
Montana State
North Dakota
Southern Utah
Simon Frazer
Wyoming

Dropping Out (Dropping Football):
Idaho State
Northern Arizona

Weber State

Dropping to Division II:

Northern Colorado

2035 Resurrected Big West

Cal Poly
CS Northridge
Hawaii
UC Davis
Portland State
Sacramento State
San Jose State
San Diego University