By mark rogers
June 13, 2009

The 2009 College Football season has officially begun, and the only question now is which 14 game streak will end first? It's a question that will dominate the weeks and months until kickoff on that first Thursday night of action.

But wait, you say, the first game isn't until September 3...how can the season have officially begun??


The preview magazines are on newstands. If you want solid and comprehensive preview magazines, you have nine choices: Athlon, Lindy's, Sporting News, Street and Smith, Sports Illustrated, Gameplan, Preview Sports, Jim Feist's and Phil Steele's.

My annual Phil Steele's came in the mail on Thursday. That's the only one I believe anyone needs.

So what 14 game streaks are we talking about?

Utah's 14 game win streak and Washington's 14 game losing streak.

OK, so maybe it won't be THAT fervently discussed, but I'm going to discuss it now.

Utah went 13-0 during the 2008 regular season and beat SEC runner-up Alabama in the  Sugar Bowl.

Washington hasn't won since they beat California at home towards the end of the 2007 season.

The Huskies should be much better this year with 18 starters returning, but they open the season at home against LSU.

Their streak will hit 15. But that's as far as it goes because Jake Locker and company will find the win column on September 12 at home against Idaho.

I doubt they'll be able to string a couple of wins together because they host USC the next week.

The Utes' streak may last a little longer into the season. Utah has a great shot at running the table again during the regular season.

They play Utah State at home on opening night (Thursday, September 3), then will beat San Jose State and Oregon on the road, have a great shot at beating Louisville at home, then play at Colorado State, at UNLV, Air Force, Wyoming, New Mexico, at TCU, San Diego State and at BYU.

I don't think Utah will be challenged until they play TCU in Fort Worth on November 14. If they keep winning up to that point, the win streak will be at 23.

So the answer to the question is Washington. They will win before Utah loses.

Oh, the number of pre-season topics to discuss.....

Next up? Toughest schedules, who's coming out of the Big 12 South, SEC West, does Notre Dame have a shot at a National Title??? Heisman Trophy? Most improved teams? Teams to keep an eye on....

The possibilities are endless.

My favorite time of year is officially upon us.


This site does not necessarily agree with comments posted below.

Barry on June 14, 2009 5:09 PM

Its just weird when someone who goes to all this effort to write about college football, does absolutely no homework on the subject. To casually dismiss the Oregon game for Utah is just laughable. Oregon will, in all likelihood, be ranked higher than Utah when that game happens, will be playing at home, and will have, overall the higher regarded players on its team.

CAN Utah win...of course. They are a good program with a quality coach. But they certainly will not be favored to do so.

mark rogers Author Profile Page on June 14, 2009 5:32 PM

Oh, Barry...you question my homework? How could you? I'm insulted.
I'm merely suggesting that Utah has a good chance to run the table again - not predicting that they will run the table. I AM predicting they will beat Oregon at Autzen Stadium on September 19. Oregon has a new head coach and only 9 returning starters. Its offensive and defensive lines were hit hard with graduation and the draft. Their new OC joined the team AFTER spring practice. They will probably be in the top 20 or 15 to start the year based on their 10 win season a year ago, but I bet they don't finish in the top half of the Pac-10, and that's WITH playing most of their tough conference games at home (Cal, USC and Oregon State). You may disagree with my assessments, but accusing me of not doing my homework?? You might as well accuse me of watching The Bachelor! Oh, wait...I do watch that...I'll have to think of another analogy...keep reading!! I wonder how you'll respond to my Big 12 South assessment.....

Greg on June 14, 2009 7:35 PM

I dont think its the point that Utah can beat Oregon at Oregon. Thats entirely possible. To say that going to Oregon isn't a challenge is completely laughable. Yes Boise State did come into our house and beat us. However the result could have been different if Masoli doesn't get taken out by a cheap shot. Anyways, How much does Utah have coming back too? It will be an interesting year for Oregon and if their o line gels I think we will be fine. I think Chip Kelly has been given a lot to play with. Bottom half of the pac 10? I don't know about that. but to each their own. Hope you're wrong.

Hoagieduck on June 14, 2009 9:02 PM

HA! What a joke. Yes, Oregon has a new head coach, and normally that causes some skepticism, but it's not as if the last guy was fired. Hiring from within doesn't even come close to the chaos caused by bringing in a whole new staff. Mark Helfrich's late arrival is hardly a problem, because the school was never really without an OC in the first place. Utah lost a heck of a lot more during the off-season than Oregon; they probably lose in Autzen by at least 10.

Mick, on June 14, 2009 11:16 PM

Your Bang On Mark!!

spinseeker on June 14, 2009 11:20 PM

Oregon has a new head coach, new qb coach, new d-line coach. HC will be the OC this year. Doesn't Utah have about the same # of returning starters and a new OC and DC? No way they beat Oregon at home.

ds on June 15, 2009 12:17 AM

How many returning starters will Utah have back? Phil Steele ranks Utah #113 as only having 28.4% of its yardage production returning. That must mean Utah is losing some starters. If that is the case, based on your logic with Oregon, how can you predict that that will not be an issue?

Both teams have 71% of letterman returning.

Who is playing on the road? Maybe teams don't fear Autzen as they once did, but it sure can be a difficult place to play.

Simply looking at returning starters isn't enough to properly handicap a game even straight up. When USC loses starters, people assume they will reload with similar talent. Oregon is not USC, but just because they lose some starters, plugging in guys without a severe dropoff is impossible? Because that is what you are assuming. That because Oregon lost 11 starters, the only guys left on the roster are good for 6th or 7th place out of 8 teams? (UW & WSU =BAD)

Oregon has been a national leader in rushing yardage, big plays, quick scoring drives and points the past couple of seasons. This spread style offense isn't going to self destruct for 6th or 7th place in the Pac.

They bring back an experienced QB who played very well in the second half of his first season last year. They return experienced RBs and TEs, and the WR group couldn't be less productive than it was last year.

At best, it would be difficult to say anything at this point other than it will be a competitive game where either team could win. After a couple of games in early September, we'll see where both teams are.

Do you really think Oregon will finish 6th or worse in the Pac 10, especially with the starting QB returning? When was the last time that happened? The Pac 10 will not exactly be a meat grinder this year. With UW and WSU in the conference? ASU or Arizona are not looking to be very good. UCLA and Stanford look to be better, but they both have a corner to turn.

I don't see it. Like I said, game is a toss-up until we see how things shake out for both teams.

wheaton4prez on June 15, 2009 2:41 AM

It's true that there are some question marks at some positions for Oregon. However, in as many other areas, they appear improved.

The new OC is not implementing a new offense. Chip Kelly graduated to head coach because of his offensive scheme, which ranked near the top in the nation in production two years in a row (each also with a lot of player turn-over). The new OC, at least this season, is likely just going to be translating what he sees from above so that Kelly can make the calls and design the schemes.

Utah will likely have to rely more heavily on the running game, especially in the early part of the season when they play Oregon. Oregon, under Nick Aliotti has played well against the run (though often at the expense of defending the pass). Plus, they look to be improved at linebacker.

Speculating that aspects that have not been demonstrated to be positive or negative will all turn out negative is not "doing homework."

By my estimation, giving Utah a 50/50 shot to win that game is generous.

Jack W on June 15, 2009 8:12 AM

Are you suggesting Oregon lost that much more than Utah? Oregon returns 10 starters while Utah returns 12. Oregon also has a lot better overall talent and depth than Utah does to reload so to suggest Oregon lost a lot more than Utah is inaccurate. BTW, 1,000 yard rusher and 17 TD RB LeGarrette Blount doesn't count as a starter but was highly productive. Oh but you're right, Utah's QB will do very well seeing that he's had a total of 7 passes so far in his career, which means he has an inexperience factor that Autzen Stadium will salivate over. Hope he's practicing dropbacks inside a speaker this offseason if you expect him to go into Autzen and pull out a win.

Also, I'm not sure you really know what you're talking about when it comes to the coaching staff. You do know than Helfrich is technically only the QBs coach this year right? Kelly will be calling the plays. Something we all know he can do if you've followed college football the last two years. So mentioning Helfrich in terms of having a down year is irrelevant. Also not sure how you figure a new head coach means it'll be a down year. Have you seen or heard about how much tougher practices are and how much hungrier and more motivated the players are to win this year?

I know making a blog is not easy, especially when you cover teams you don't know very well (which Oreogn is obviously one of them), but don't be defensive when a fan calls you out for not doing your homework because to someone who actually follows both programs, he's more right than you are.

mark rogers Author Profile Page on June 15, 2009 8:55 AM

With all of these educated, intelligent and actually quite polite arguments, I'm almost to the point of changing my opinion and becoming a full-fledged Oregon fan! These comments are a complete 180 from SEC fan who disagrees with me and just calls me a dumb you-know-what and compares my mother to a hippo...but I cannot waiver which may cause a tear in the integrity of my prediction...which isn't much to begin with.

I think what has gotten lost in my prediction is my appreciation for what Oregon has done this decade and the types of fun and exciting players they put on display for the country to watch...and I sure do watch, averaging about 30 games every Saturday thanks to ESPN gameplan. I consider myself a Heisman expert and really thought Denis Dixon would have won easily had he not blown his knee out in 07. LeGarrette Blount is a freak of nature, and I think he is one of the most talented running backs in the country. He'll be the main reason I'll look forward to watching Oregon this year.

All that being said, I'm sticking with my Utah pick. I do think that the returning starter factor is a more important factor the first month of the season, which is when this game will be. And I'm counting on the NJCAA passing leader from a year ago to be able to come into the big-time and perform immediately...that's a big IF. I also think coaching changes (whether internal or not) do have a negative effect the majority of the time - not in every case but in the majority. There are obviously times when coaching changes are a good thing, like when Buck Showalter left the Yankees and they won the WS the next year...it also happened when he left Arizona, the year after he left they won it all. Too bad that luck ran out when he left the Rangers...

...anyway, thanks for the very polite and educated arguments. I have a new respect for Pac-10 fan (specifically Oregon fan) and won't be devastated if Oregon ends up having a great year...keep reading!

wheaton4prez on June 15, 2009 6:46 PM

Mr. Rogers,

I appreciate the nod to Duck fans and respect your sticking with your prediction.

I also agree that coaching changes coincide with down years more often than not. But, that is because coaching changes more often than not are made because a program is in the dumps and needs new management to turn things around. Oregon was getting top 10 pre-season rankings before anyone knew that Belotti was going to step down. They aren't a program in trouble, looking for a coach to turn things around. Making Kelly HC was an attempt to pass a torch that has been burning well and good for years.

It is always possible for a talented athlete to come in and make an immediate impact. But, usually, it takes at least a season to learn a new system. Oregon's QB Masoli was also a JC guy with huge JC stats. He started slow and progressed over the season last year as he picked up the concepts. I would be surprised if Utah's new QB could step in and run a new scheme all that well in one of the first games of the season.

I think it's fair to say that, at the very least, the Oregon game will be a challenge for Utah. I'm pretty sure that the Utah players and coaching staff see it that way.

ducky on June 16, 2009 1:23 PM

Chip Kelly has practically been running Oregon's offense the last two seasons. I doubt we see any change to our team. Oregon should have no problem beating Utah, unless all their QBs get hurt again like they did against BSU.

Stupid article.

FederalUte on June 26, 2009 9:21 AM

Oregon will be a tough road game, but it will definitely not be the toughest. TCU which has better speed and talent than Oregon will be the toughest.

Dear Ute Fans,
You don't have the speed, talent, or the coaches to beat us. Look we are in the SEC and you don't belong on the same field especially in the South. The final score will be 50-0 Bama.

Signed, Bama Fans
Dec. 31, 2008

I would have to tell these duck fans that Oregon better not underestimate Utah's defensive speed. But, carry on about how Utah doesn't belong on the same field as a PAC-10 team. We have heard it all before and we know the result. Utah by 5!

Utefan on June 26, 2009 9:59 AM

I have been a dirhard Utah fan for over 40 years. Our 14 game winning streak and 8 game bowl winning streak has been a great ride. I suffered through back-to-back 1-10 season in the 70s. In any event, I have great respect for Oregon and the game at Autzen worries me. I think the Utes have the potential to very good again this season, but raplacing Brian Johnson at QB will not be easy. Trust me, Ute fans do not take the Ducks lightly.

Chad Sexington on June 26, 2009 10:10 AM

Nice write-up, if a little general. How specific can you be two months before fall camp? Appreciate the respect toward the UTES.

A couple of items that may interest you:

First, UTAH is expected, by fans and staff, to be a better defensive football team this year as compared to last. UTES will be bigger along the front and more experienced in the LB corps. The secondary will be very athletic and will hit a bit better than last year, however, they will be inexperienced relative to past DB corps.

Second, UTAH's OL will be faster and returns 3/5ths of the starters. The RB corps will be faster and a bit deeper. The WRs are expected to produce at the same level as last year with three returners with great game experience, namely: David Reed, Jerome Brooks and Aiona Key. Another name to remember here is Luke Mathews, a RS Fr with great talent.

Third, the loss of Brian Johnson is huge. No way to hide that or dismiss it. There is talent waiting in the wings at QB. I expect the starter to be Corbin Louks, although others are in the Terrance Cain camp and still others think that true Fr Jordan Wynn is another Alex Smith. Talent is there, experience is not. If leadership becomes apparent at QB, UTAH will simply reload and the sky is truly the limit.

I don't know much about Oregon, but for anyone to assume that UTAH will not compete, they haven't been paying attention to the UTES lately. Coaching stability, HC remains and both coordinators are from within the system, will help greatly with the transition.

There is not a game on the UTES' schedule that causes me to think that they don't have a chance to win.

Coltan on June 26, 2009 10:49 AM

Don't you get it Rogers!?! The Utes don't have the players, or coaching to beat teams like Oregon, Oregon State, Cal, UCLA, Alabama, Michigan, Texas A&M, Pittsburg or Louisville. Could the Utes win? Maybe... But when you really think about it Utah just can't compete because they are non BCS.

Jimmy on June 26, 2009 11:00 AM

Barry: you sound a lot like some Bama fans from last year. "We are ranked higher, and we have the higher rated players." Bama fans learned pretty quickly (8 minutes into the first quarter of the Sugar Bowl), that being the higher ranked team in a subjective poll and having subjectively higher rated players is completely irrelevant in the world of college football. Go ahead and stick with the higher ranking and higher rated players argument, it's really all you have to go on.

UtahUte72 on June 26, 2009 11:58 AM

Just a little information for the readers. Utah's biggest loss will be the quarterback. Last year's back up and part time spot player, Corbin Louks, the no. one Junior college QB, Cain, and an incomming Freshman are competing for the job. Louks appears to be the leader now. We lost three top recievers, but Utah runs 6-8 deep at that position so we will be strong there again. As far as coaching, the D coordinator was a good one, but the Defense is and has been the head coach's. The offensive coordinator was Andy Ludwig, and Duck fans are familiar with him, so no loss. Defense will probably be even stronger because a number of players from last year were underclassmen. We look at Oregon as a tough game, along with roadies at TCU and BYU.

John on June 26, 2009 1:29 PM

I'd go with Utah as well. They really only have one question on the offensive side of the ball and that's at QB. It looks like they have enough capable guys in their system to answer that question and all they need is a journeyman QB because their defense that was amazing last year, is even better this year.

Anyone that has followed their headcoach knows that for all the hype they bring on offense he is a defense first guy and they literally reload on defense year in and year out. Look for them to have a top 10 defense in the least, and quite possibly top 5.

As for talent? Well... I think Alabama got an eyeful of that, after claiming the same thing some Ducks are.

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