Utah Utes – 2011 CFBMatrix Profile
Is there a team in college football with as much pressure to perform as the Utah Utes in 2011? Sure, there are the teams with the weight of national championship expectations, but that occurs every year for the top programs. In going over the numbers the model kicked out and given the winning success and rankings of Utah over the years, it is very hard to accept the numbers posted.
The biggest problem is trends and history. The Utes have played 10 meaningful games in 4 years versus AQ schools and have gone 7-3, which is well above expectations within the model. Over the same 4 years, Coach Whittingham is nearly +2 games net coaching effect per year. Recruiting in 2011 was flat and thus would correlate with +/- 1 game versus the 2010 regular season total. However, with the change of conference this throws that all out of whack. What the model tells me is that Utah has a very good coach that is good on the road and home. The Utes are lucky to be in one of the weakest divisions in college football and the second easiest PAC12 schedule this year. Total wins, due to all the uncertainty, would have a best probability of the top end at 7 wins and the bottom at 3 wins. Schedule and further breakdown below.
It is a new era in PAC-12 football but while the PAC 10 was still in existence the team with the worst 4 year composite national recruiting ranking to win to tie for a conference title was #32. The Utes at #58 and three teams in front of them are VERY long shots to win the division.
Utah Recruiting Rank Links:
Utah Utes 2011 Schedule Breakdown
2011 will be the toughest schedule in the history of the Utes and the CFBMatrix modeling is not generous on their past history. I did go through and credit the Utes coaching staff on their game effect in AQ school games. However, the Utes have not played a team with a flat or adjusted recruiting rank of better than #24 so the model is still unclear and hard to predict. Nevertheless, the Utes get some big breaks in their schedule in 2011.
The breaks start with the OOC games and going to Pittsburgh. I am not sure what is a better scenario… going against a chronic under performer that was Dave Wannstadt or a new Head Coach. Either way, it is a good opportunity but one that Pittsburgh should win either way. The model expects a 1 to 2 win start for the Utah in OOC games.
The big breaks come in bunches in the PAC12 schedule for the Utes. First, USC is disqualified from representing the PAC12 South in the title game. USC will win the division but the Utes, ASU or UCLA will get to travel North by default. The second break is UCLA and Arizona State at home. The model expects, at best, a 1-1 record in those two games. The final break is not having to play either Oregon or Stanford in 2011. If this team is .500 or better, Ute fans should be praising the coaching staff for a very good effort. In the final PAC-12 standings, the model as I read it does not project the Utes any higher than a tie for 3rd in the division.
Links to other Utes stats, trends, and articles
Utah Win/Recruiting Trend Chart
This chart provides little if any value as it is based on wins in the Mountain West Conference. There is really no comparison, except emotional ones by biased fans, to a PAC-12 schedule. Lets revisit this in 2012 and see if the red line stays above the black 4 year moving average. It will be very close to it or more likely, below the black line.