1. BYU

The Cougars start the season atop the rankings. With a year under his belt and a year with Ty Detmer BYU has reason to have faith in Tanner Mangum. Mangum returns a veteran offensive line that legitimately 7 deep leaving BYU with depth at the most important spot. Despite the Honor Code troubles forcing Francis Bernard to sit out and most likely transfer, expectations are high on the defensive side of the ball. After beating out Harvey Langi last year you can make a case that Butch Pau’u might be the best LB in the west. Improved depth and familiarity with coach Sitake’s system coupled with a competitive schedule could put BYU in the mix for a BCS Bowl game with the right breaks.

ADJ Prediction: BYU 9-3

 

2. Utah

The Utes finally gave us their answer to who will line up under center for week 1. Sophomore Tyler Huntley takes the reigns and Ute fans should take solace in knowing they have a proven backup should things go wrong. What remains to be seen is just how much freedom new Offensive Coordinator Troy Taylor will be given. We expect a more spread out offense, but with that usual mix of a Whittingham team’s signature forecful running game. Why even talk about the linebackers and defensive line? They will be elite, they always are. Expect Joe Williams to be replaced by some Joe Williams clone that Utah winds up with every year. Unlike years past we will find out very quickly who the Utes are when they play BYU week 2. The rest of the season is a gauntlet in a reloaded Pac-12. Expect Utah to exceed their projected 5.5 wins, but this just isn’t the year for the Utes to make a real run at the CFB Playoffs.

ADJ Prediction; Utah 7-5


3. Utah State

In a make and break year for Matt Wells, Utah State has plenty of work to do. It’s never easy replacing a legend and so far filling Gary Anderson’s shoes has proven too big a task. The offensive line, who was inconsistent last year, now has to replace 3 starters to protect starter Kent Myers. Running the ball never seems to be a huge issue as the Aggies have rushed for over 2000 yards in 8 straight seasons. Expect the passing schemes to be simpler under new OC David Yost (no not that coach Yost) however we see Utah State struggling again and in search of a new coach as the season ends.

ADJ Prediction Utah State 6-6