Granted, with the devastation against Appy State last year...no mid-major is going to enter the Big House and try and sneak out with an upset win. That just ain't gonna happen. Utah is talented though, and a loss to the Utes, while still an upset, would not register on the Richter Scale as much as the Mountaineers loss did last year.
Here are his answers:
1. How is this year's Utah Utes team looking now that fall practice is in full-swing?
Fall camp has gone well for the Utes, as they've showcased their offense and the defense looks to at least put in a solid effort this season. But most importantly, though there have been some minor injuries, nothing major has happened. For Ute fans, that is a relief, since last season was plagued by injuries and it all started with the Utes losing their best offensive lineman in camp that year. If the team stays healthy, the offense appears to have developed to a level where it will give every team they play some serious problems.
2. What are Utah's fan's expectations going into the Michigan game?
Expectations for this year and Michigan are pretty high this season. The Utes are on the cusp of the top-25 in both major polls and fans expect at least ten wins and a conference championship. Of course, there are varying opinions on whether Utah should beat Michigan, but I think we all universally expect to give them a run for their money, much like the Utes did in 2002, when a 5-6 team came within a hair of winning at the Big House.
3. The Mountain West conference is a relative mystery to the average Big Ten fan. What can you tell us about how well Utah will do in-conference this year?
Hopefully the Utes can win the Mountain West, as they've come up short the past three seasons. Since 2005, though, the Utes have managed to lose a conference game or two they had no business losing. I know Ute fans are hoping that changes, or they'll probably finish 2nd behind BYU. With the Cougars and TCU coming to Salt Lake City this season, Utah has no excuse not to win the conference. But I thought the same in 2006 and that year they finished 5-3.
4. We just had a rather controversial coaching change, how well has that news traveled out west and can you relate that in any way to Urban Meyer leaving the Utes just a couple years ago?
Many out here followed the coaching change and how up and down it went for Michigan. Of course, it wasn't as closely followed like I'm sure it was back there in Ann Arbor or Morgantown. But I think most generally accept it was a good hire for Michigan.
As for Urban Meyer leaving, I guess we can sympathize more with the fans of West Virginia than Michigan's. That loss stung, but most had conceded earlier in the 2004 season he was probably on his way out. Though I think most had hoped he would return for 2005, as there was a possibility of Alex Smith and some other key offensive players returning, too. That didn't happen, Urban Meyer left, Alex Smith jumped to the NFL and Kyle Whittingham -- Utah's defensive coordinator since 1994 -- was stuck with a very young team in his first year. I guess we're left with wondering what could have been had they all returned for one last performance. Championship maybe? Nah.
5. And finally...Utah has had some great success in recent years and knocked off some good caliber opponents. Do Utah fans feel their school does not get the respect it deserves from the BCS and mainstream college football media?
Yeah, we feel there is a swipe at Utah and it's in various ways, too. Like I'm sure most Michigan fans believe they should beat Utah only because the Utes aren't a BCS team. And while I can understand that type of logic, I don't necessarily agree with it. Then when Utah actually does win, no one ever suggests it's because the Utes were better, but that the other team "lost" the game. In 2004, that let up a bit, but only because Utah went 12-0. Had they gone 11-1 or 10-2, none of the four BCS teams they beat that year (Texas A&M, Arizona, North Carolina and Pittsburgh) would have given them the respect they deserved.