Greg McElroy believes Utah has an “extremely manageable” schedule

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Utah had failed to capture three straight Pac-12 championships last year before heading to the Big 12 this offseason. Still, Greg McElroy doesn’t understand why the Utes’ winning ways won’t continue in their new conference in 2024.

McElroy examined Utah’s schedule for this fall during a recent episode of “Always College Football.” In his opinion, their schedule for the coming year is much easier to work with than the schedule they faced in their last competition.

‘Are you actually looking at the schedule? The schedule, to me, is extremely manageable for Utah, especially considering what league they come from,” McElroy said. “You know the respect I’ve had for the Pac-12 over the years. There is no Washington there is none on the schedule Oregon there is none on the schedule ‘S.C On schedule.”

“It feels a little more manageable for Utah as they transition to a new league,” McElroy said. “You go through the schedule and there just aren’t that many games that they’re likely to happen in a toss-up scenario.”

McElroy proved his point when he started reviewing games for the Utes. That included a 3-0 start for them, with one of the players opening conference play for them.

“You have Southern Utah, Baylor At home, State of Utah on the road in the first three weeks of the season,” McElroy read. “I think Baylor coming to them is an advantage for the Utes all day and twice on Saturday, so I’m going to lean in the Utes’ favor there in that game. So I think they’re starting 3-0.”

However, the fourth and fifth games of their year are two games that McElroy highlighted for Utah. A road trip to Stillwater and a home game against ‘Zona are a pair of games he thinks they could lose.

“Undoubtedly the toughest game on the schedule is underway on September 21st State of Oklahoma. That game? Extremely difficult,” said McElroy. “We know what Oklahoma State brings back, we know Oklahoma State can crush the football. Will they really be able to run the ball well against Utah? Probably not. They have always been very brave against the run, but at the same time I think the weapons for Oklahoma State will be a challenge in a slightly redesigned secondary, especially there at the safety spot.

Arizona come to Utah,” McElroy continued. “I think expectations are high in Arizona. I’m not as optimistic about Arizona as everyone else. The fact that it’s in Utah? I think it’s a game they have to win. But is it loseable? Certainly. You can certainly make a case for that.”

But from then on, McElroy didn’t see another match that certainly worried him in their last seven. There are tests, including a rivalry match against BYU and a road race Coloradobut none that he classified as losses.

State of Arizona? I think they are at least a year away. TCU coming to them – I would lean for Utah in that game. Bee Houston – I would be in favor of Utah there. BYU is coming to them – I think they’ll get BYU there next year in The Holy War. That game will be played in Salt Lake,” McElroy said. “Colorado is on its way. I think Utah, in the trenches, will have a significant advantage over Colorado. Now maybe Colorado can match their staff and their skills? Certainly. That’s possible, but I’d still lean Utah there. The state of Iowa comes to them and then they are on their way UCF.”

For those counting them up, that only leaves two to three games that McElroy believes are potential losses for Utah over the course of their season.

“When you think about Utah, how many games are legitimately loseable? Three maybe?” McElroy pondered.

“Is Oklahoma on the way? Agree. Yeah, you could convince me of that,’ McElroy thought. “Arizona at home? It’s hard for me to think of Utah losing that game. In Colorado? I don’t think Colorado is quite ready for what awaits Utah in the trenches.”

Remove the pandemic year and Utah has won eight or more games in each of those five years, with three of those seasons posting 10 or more wins. That’s consistency you can count on as of late, no matter what conference they play in.

Still, in a new league in the age of an expanded field, the Utes are positioned to win games by double digits again before potentially playing for the Big 12 Championship and a spot in the College Football Playoff, according to McElroy.

“You really look through the schedule and I think we could easily fast forward to the end of the year and Utah is right there at 10-2, 11-1 and maybe on its way to a Big 12 title, and possibly on its way to a berth into the College Football Playoff,” McElroy said. “It wouldn’t shock me at all, especially if you dig into the schedule game by game.”

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