TwistNHook: What to make of these Utes? Our first Pac-12 game against an expansion foe (as the earlier Colorado game is technically not a Pac-12 game). This is a Utah team that seems able to hang with the big boys. They have won 2 BCS games, which is 2 more than Cal has even attended, let alone won! Damn you, Mack Brown.
Berkelium97: Utah receives a wonderful welcoming gift from the Pac-12 scheduling committee: they don't have to play Oregon and Stanford. With OOC games against Montana State, BYU, and Pitt, Utah may have the conference's easiest schedule this season. Still, the game against Cal comes off a stretch of games which will define Utah's season. They have consecutive home games against Washington and ASU followed by a road game against Pitt. They certainly can win all these games. Whether they manage to notch consecutive quality wins will tell us how well this team will fare in its BCS conference debut. If they are fired up in their first Pac-12 conference game and defeat USC, they might be undefeated when they visit the Bears.
Thankfully for us Cal fans, we'll have a nine-day break to lick our wounds after the tough UW-Oregon-USC stretch. Those two additional days of rest and prep could play a big role at the midpoint in the schedule. No matter the outcome of the three previous weeks' games, the Bears ought to come back focused, rested, and ready for a little revenge for the '09 Poinsettia Bowl.
LeonPowe: A couple years away from their kicking our ass in San Diego - with a highly improved defense, and hopefully some of the kinks in the offense worked out by then, I think we gain some revenge for 2009.
Kodiak: The first thing that strikes me when I look at the Utah depth chart is that they have a ton of returning starters and plenty of upper classmen. Having veterans who are used to winning is usually a recipe for success in the Pac-12.
NorCalNick: It will be interesting to see what kind of shape the Utes will be in when they arrive in San Francisco. They will have played six games, including four BCS teams and BYU. They'll be two weeks removed from a huge game against presumptive Pac-12 South favorite Arizona St. and one week removed from an east coast road trip to Pittsburgh. That's lots of travel and lots of big games for a team used to the Mountain West. So by the time they face the Bears we should have a pretty good sense if Utah is ready to handle the rigors of a BCS schedule.
TwistNHook: Score predictions?
NorCalNick: Cal holds on for a tense victory, 27-24. Cal's offense shows increasing improvement over the first few games, and playing at home (even in SF) makes all the difference. Utah both continues to prove that they belong while also learning that road wins in the Pac-12 are precious and hard to earn.
OhioBear: I have a good feeling about this game. Well, only about as good a feeling as a Cal fan can have -- to paraphrase the wisdom of CalBear 81, I hope for the best, expect the worst, and be happy about whatever good happens. And in this game, I think some good can happen.
Utah is a good program and I have great respect for them and what they have accomplished during the past decade. But I just don't think the Utes' transition into the Pac-12 will be as smooth as some might think. This is one of those games that might bear that out: on paper, conventional wisdom might make Utah the favorite, but after a two-week stretch in which they will have played ASU (one of their chief competitors in the Pac-12 South) and gone across the country to play at Pitt, this game might be a tester for them.
I'm a little worried about facing this Utah team since they do have Jordan Wynn. The kid isn't too bad. He has a 7.81 yard per attempt average. He's got a 3.34% INT rate (a little high but not bad). He only got sacked 6 times on 299 pass attempts last year (2% sack rate). And he completed 62.2% of his passes last year. Not too shabby for a true sophomore. Of course, this year he will be going against tougher Pac-12 defenses week in and week out, but I think the guy is good enough to be a headache for most Pac-12 defenses.
HydroTech: Utah does a great job spreading the ball around in the air too. Last year they had five players with over 25 receptions. Fortunately for Pac-12 defenses though, four of those players aren't returning so Utah will be breaking in some fairly new receivers. Nevertheless, I think this is an offense and a team that is capable of winning against Pac-12 teams and shouldn't be taken lightly.
Berkelium97: I anticipate this one will come down to the final drive. The Cal D manages to hold off a tenacious, but error-prone Utah offense in the last couple minutes to preserve a 24-21 victory.