This is the month when all 4 major sports align in the collegiate and professional world. Next week you can watch the NFL on Sunday and Monday, the NBA tip-off week starting on Tuesday and continuing throughout the week, the college football weekend on Friday and Saturday, and the MLB playoffs and NHL.
It is a metaphorical “Trick or Treat” for the average sports fanatic. Every super fan dressed up in a costume. Some dress up as Cowboys and others dress up as Indians. Sometimes they get tricked into thinking their team will win, only to be thwarted by that baaaaaaad man Aaron Rodgers and sometimes fans are in for a real treat if their team makes a last second touchdown, jumper or walk-off home run.
In Utah there aren’t Major League Baseball or football teams but there are plenty of sports to catch on the collegiate and professional levels in October. Here are the top five competitions to watch this month:
1. Utah Jazz season opener: The Jazz host the Northwest division rival Denver Nuggets on Wednesday, October 18th in the first regular season game in the newly renovated Larry H. Miller Court at Vivint Smart Home Arena. This time a familiar face is on the opposing side. Paul Millsap, a guy the Jazz formed into an All-Star in Atlanta, just signed with a talented Nuggets team also featuring Kenneth Faried, Emmanuel Mudiay and the next overhyped European big man of the NBA: Nikola Jokic. Put on your hard hats NBA fans.
It’s a Wild West with super teams galore and the Northwest is packed with new super teams in Oklahoma City, Minneapolis and Portland that are also trying to make it to the playoffs. Will the stifling defense make it to consecutive postseasons for the first time since 2010? Find out as the journey starts here!
2. Boise State at Utah State: Halloween weekend in Logan might be full of a couple Ute fans getting DUIs at the Halloween Howl on Friday but on Saturday Boise State returns to Logan for the first time since the Aggies doubled their score 52-26 two years ago.
Hopefully people will leave their sexy cop and kitten costumes from the Howl at home and come support the Aggies in blue and fighting white.
The Aggies will need to win the turnover battle as they insurmountably did 8 to 1 in 2015. USU promptly lost to Colorado State a week after winning a similar turnover battle 7 to 1 against the Cougars that led to a 40-24 victory.
Jalen Davis will need to be the top receiver for the Boise State Broncos to make this a contest. Davis plays on the defense for Utah State and caught more touchdown passes from BYU quarterbacks than BYU receivers two weeks ago. He recorded three interceptions and two of them were returned for touchdowns.
They don’t want to face a losing streak like the last time they won a big game against Boise State in 2015. They went on to lose four out of their last five games and then lost to Akron in the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl. USU will look to right the ship on a cold Saturday night in northern Utah.
3. Arizona State at Utah: Patrick Kinahan will enjoy talking about his former school coming to town on the Zone Sports Network and the Utes will look to hand them another two possession loss on October 21st as they did in Salt Lake City two years ago. The 34-18 victory helped Utah improve to 6-0 a week after beating California on college Game Day. One week later Southern Cal avenged the loss of their rival in Berkeley and soundly defeated the Utes 42-24 and Utah began an early winter hibernation yet again instead of competing for a Pac-12 South Division title. A similar story occurred last year.
The best the Utes can hope for after a disappointing loss to Stanford last week is to stun USC tonight and run the table until they play at the College Gameday location for the third consecutive year. Last year they hosted College Gameday yet again and barely lost to eventual PAC-12 champion Washington Huskies. UW is currently undefeated and could still be by the time they play the Utes in November. Washington State comes to Salt Lake on November 11th and the Utes go to Seattle on the 18th. Both teams will look to beat the Utes in anticipation of a North Division showdown for the Apple Cup. However, this is College Football where upset alerts happen every week so keep your eyes out for the Utes in October and beyond.
4. BYU vs San Jose State Football: Ok, the Aggies and Utes combined to outscore the Spartans 115 to 26 but the Cougars actually might find this a more exciting matchup than losing soundly to a Power 5 or even top tier Mountain West team as they have done for the last 5 games. The back half of the Cougars’ schedule is much easier as they play many lower tier Mountain West teams as well as two dismal teams back east in East Carolina and UMass who have combined for one win. UMass will Be BYU’s only other home game left so the Cougars will have to be tough when traveling to places like Fresno and the far away town of Honolulu to end the season. If the Cougars can complete a miraculous comeback this season then maybe they can make another trip back for the Hawaii Bowl where they are slated to play in two years if they become bowl eligible.
5. Colorado Rapids at Real Salt Lake: Ok, Real Salt Lake probably won’t win an MLS Cup this year like they did in 2009. That year RSL was a five seed and this year they are currently seventh in the Western Conference. The team would need to attain enough points to catch the Houston Dynamo who are currently four points ahead in the final wild card spot. After hosting this game against the dismal Rapids, who are currently ranked 10th in the West, the Monarchs will travel for their final game to play second ranked Western Conference foe Sporting Kansas City. The best RSL can hope for is to win both games convincingly and hope for some struggles by the Houston Dynamo. Houston will have their hands full with Kansas City as well as a solid Eastern Conference Playoff opponent in the Chicago Fire.
Whether it’s basketball, American football, or the football (soccer) that the rest of the world plays, you can expect teams from the Beehive State to work their heart out to get to the top. It may not be 2009 for Real Salt Lake or 1984 for BYU every year but these teams will try to get back to a title every year. Teams like the Jazz, Cougars and Aggies will also try to compete in their respective conferences and eventually win that elusive title that has escaped them for decades.