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'One game at a time': Examining Utah's 2018 football schedule

Washington defender Byron Murphy (17) tries to break up a pass by Utah quarterback Tyler Huntley in the second half of an NCAA college football game Saturday, Nov. 18, 2017, in Seattle. Washington won 33-30. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)
Washington defender Byron Murphy (17) tries to break up a pass by Utah quarterback Tyler Huntley in the second half of an NCAA college football game Saturday, Nov. 18, 2017, in Seattle. Washington won 33-30. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)
AP

SALT LAKE CITY — It’s been said that there's a few certainties in life. Namely, death and taxes. Thank you, Benjamin Franklin.

However, as far as college football is concerned, Utah coach Kyle Whittingham has maintained a constant refrain when it comes to the schedule and what lies ahead for the Utes.

His response to such inquiries?

“One game at a time — week-by-week,” he says.

That’s how Whittingham rolls. However, there’s much preparation and a method to his approach.

“We have a plan and we have a format for short weeks, long weeks. There’s not going to be any guess work when we come to a short turnaround or a bye week,” Whittingham said. “We have a process or a plan in place for all that. So there’s nothing like when all of a sudden when we have a game in nine days instead of seven days is what do we do now? We know exactly how we’re going to handle it. But we just go week-to-week.”

Utah's Tenny Palepoi reaches for Weber State quarterback Austin Chipoletti in the second quarter of a game at Rice-Eccles Stadium on Saturday, Sept. 7, 2013.
Utah's Tenny Palepoi reaches for Weber State quarterback Austin Chipoletti in the second quarter of a game at Rice-Eccles Stadium on Saturday, Sept. 7, 2013.
Deseret News

GAME 1 — WEBER STATE, Aug. 30: The season-opener pits Utah against several familiar faces. Eight members of the Weber State coaching staff have ties to the Utes, including head coach Jay Hill and offensive coordinator Dave Schramm. Utah is 4-0 all-time against Weber State.

GAME 2 — at NORTHERN ILLINOIS, Sept. 8: Although Utah is hesitant to play at Utah State, the Utes have scheduled road games at interesting places like Fresno State, San Jose State and Wyoming. Oh, and this one. The first game between Utah and Northern Illinois is set for 23,595-seat Brigham Field at Husky Stadium.

GAME 3 — WASHINGTON, Sept. 15: The Utes are just 1-10 against the Huskies. They were in prime position to get win No. 2 last season in Seattle before giving up 10 points in the final 58 seconds and falling 33-30. Washington is the preseason favorite to win the Pac-12 title and enters the season ranked in the top 10 nationally.

GAME 4 — at WASHINGTON STATE, Sept. 29: The red-clad Cougars prevailed 33-25 last season in Salt Lake City. The Utes turned the ball over seven times and gave up seven sacks in the game. Washington State holds an 8-7 lead in the series and has won the last three meetings. Utah’s last win in Pullman came in 2011.

Utah Utes running back Zack Moss (2)is tackled by Stanford Cardinal defensive end Eric Cotton (80) in Salt Lake City on Saturday, Oct. 7, 2017.
Utah Utes running back Zack Moss (2)is tackled by Stanford Cardinal defensive end Eric Cotton (80) in Salt Lake City on Saturday, Oct. 7, 2017.

GAME 5 — at STANFORD, Oct. 6: Utah and Stanford have split eight matchups. The Utes, though, have fared well on the Farm. They’ve won the last three games at Stanford Stadium— claiming victories in 1989, 1996 and 2014. The latter was settled in double overtime. Stanford defeated Utah 23-20 last year at Rice-Eccles Stadium.

GAME 6 — ARIZONA, Oct. 12: The Wildcats have a new coach in Kevin Sumlin and an explosive quarterback in Khalil Tate. It remains to be seen, though, if it adds up to division contender status. This is the only series with a Pac-12 foe that Utah holds an all-time advantage. The Utes are 22-19-2 overall against the Wildcats.

Southern California tight end Tyler Petite, right, runs in the ball after a catch for a touchdown ahead of Utah defensive back Marquise Blair during the first half of an NCAA college football game in Los Angeles, Saturday, Oct. 14, 2017. (AP Photo/Kelvin
Southern California tight end Tyler Petite, right, runs in the ball after a catch for a touchdown ahead of Utah defensive back Marquise Blair during the first half of an NCAA college football game in Los Angeles, Saturday, Oct. 14, 2017. (AP Photo/Kelvin Kuo)
AP

GAME 7 — USC, Oct. 20: The Trojans and Utes topped the Pac-12 South in the preseason media poll. If the projection proves to be accurate, this matchup could carry championship implications. The teams have split the last two meetings with both teams winning at home — Utah 31-27 in 2016 and USC 28-27 in 2017.

GAME 8 — at UCLA, Oct. 26: Point production hasn’t been a problem when Utah and UCLA have squared off over the past two seasons. The Utes have scored a combined 100 points in wins over the Bruins. It remains to be seen how much of a difference Chip Kelley’s arrival in Westwood will make on both sides of the ball.

GAME 9 — at ARIZONA STATE, Nov. 3: Just when it looked like the Utes had exorcised the Sun Devils — ending an 11-game skid with two straight victories — ASU bounced back to prevail 30-10 last season in Salt Lake City. New boss Herm Edwards and company host this year’s game in Tempe.

Oregon tight end Cam McCormick dives for a touchdown over Utah's Julian Blackmon, bottom and Chase Hansen, right, during the first quarter of an NCAA college football game Saturday, Oct. 28, 2017, in Eugene, Ore. (AP Photo/Chris Pietsch)
Oregon tight end Cam McCormick dives for a touchdown over Utah's Julian Blackmon, bottom and Chase Hansen, right, during the first quarter of an NCAA college football game Saturday, Oct. 28, 2017, in Eugene, Ore. (AP Photo/Chris Pietsch)
AP

GAME 10 — OREGON, Nov. 10: Aside from a surprising 62-20 win in Eugene in 2015, Utah hasn’t had much success against Oregon. The Utes have lost the other four Pac-12 games against the Ducks, being outscored 166-96. Oregon comes to town with its third head coach (Mario Cristobal) in three years.

GAME 11 — at COLORADO, Nov. 17: Since the series was renewed in 2011 after a hiatus that followed a game in 1962, Utah is 5-2 against Colorado. Six of the contests, though, have been decided by a touchdown or less. The lone exception was last season in Salt Lake City when the Utes prevailed 34-13.

Brigham Young Cougars quarterback Tanner Mangum (12) is sacked by Utah Utes linebacker Cody Barton (30) and defensive end Kylie Fitts (11) in the third quarter at LaVell Edwards Stadium in Provo on Saturday, Sept. 9, 2017.
Brigham Young Cougars quarterback Tanner Mangum (12) is sacked by Utah Utes linebacker Cody Barton (30) and defensive end Kylie Fitts (11) in the third quarter at LaVell Edwards Stadium in Provo on Saturday, Sept. 9, 2017.

GAME 12 — BYU, Nov. 24: The Rivalry Game is back where it used to be — at the end of the season thanks to a Pac-12 scheduling quirk. The Utes have won seven straight over the Cougars. This year’s game could be extra intriguing if Utah ends up in the Pac-12 championship game less than one week later.