Best Case Scenario: Going undefeated will be a pipe dream in 2009 however last year it was not even discussed at all in the preseason. 11-1 is the best case scenario.
The Oregon game is not as tough as people are making it out to be, because for one their offensive line returns only one starter and in all there are only 20 cumulative total starts. That does not bode well with the Utes strength on the defensive line.
The new projected starters are Mark Asper a a two star recruit who just returned from a two year layoff from serving an LDS mission, then there is Junior Jordan Holmes who's only offer was from Oregon. Finally there is Freshman Carson York who was a four star recruit and finally Junior Bo Thran who received multiple Pac-10 offers.
The loss will come from either TCU or BYU -possibly to Oregon-- because these are on the road, however there is hope for both to be wins since the games are at the end of the year, and by then the offense should have little or no questions.
TCU seems the most likely even though the Utes have not loss to them since 2005, but TCU looks to be the most complete team in the league and that puts this game as the most likely loss in this scenario. Also, look at what TCU did last year to BYU when their main focus was beating the Cougars, and in 2009 Utah will be their main focus.
BYU is interesting because the games from 2005-2008 have all came down to either overtime or with less then two minutes in the game. LaVell Edwards is a tough place to play and BYU currently has an 18 game winning streak at home, and their last loss was the 2005 Utah team when backup turned starter Brett Ratliff took over for an injured Brian Johnson to lead the Utes to the win.
The quarterback situation is not yet official and if the quarterback can make limited mistakes and hand the ball of to Matt Asiata and find the open receiver then the Utes will not be rebuilding this year. Also, their defensive line is one of the best in the country and will be their strength in keeping the team in games.
11-1 is lofty and would require a near perfect season and the loss will be of these three, but the most likely loss seems to be TCU.
Worst Case Scenario: 7-5, that would be pretty disappointing for a team that should contend for a conference title. Going back through history to 2006, that was the last time the Utes had a quarterback controversy and they ended up with an 8-5 record, when the bowl wins is included. That team finished strong after a bad start to the season.
The quarterback situation might be iffy with neither Jordan Wynn or Terrance Cain every taken an FBS snap, and who know how they will react when they are surrounded by at least 50,000 fans. The receivers are green but there is over talent and depth at the position.
The cornerback position is biggest key since Sean Smith and Brice McCain are both in the NFL, and the Utes run a man press coverage on the corners and if the replacements are not up to par then the pass defense could be a hurtin' for the Utes.
Also, they lost clutch kicker/punter Louie Sakoda to graduation and he made multiple winning kicks last year, most notable agaisnt Oregon State, and he made other clutch kicks that preserved leads against MIchigan, Air Force, New Mexico, and TCU
Loses along the way in this case is to Oregon, TCU, and BYU for sure and then the other two could be against Air Force or UNLV. This can even happen if injuries do not occur, because the Utes replace quarterback Brian Johnson that is the schools career win leader, their top three wide outs are gone, superior kicker/punter Louie Sakoda, and a few NFL draft picks along the way. Also, do not forget that defensive end Jamies Aiona who was the top junior college recruit -- according to Rivals -- is not eligible to play this fall.
Not a Chance None
50/50 @Oregon, @Colorado State, @UNLV, Air Force, @TCU, @BYU
Lock it Up Utah State, @San Jose State, Louisville, Wyoming, San Diego State