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Will Utah be a ‘surprise’ team in 2021?

With 19 starters returning, Utes enter new season amid high expectations

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The Utah Utes take the field against the Idaho State Bengals in Salt Lake City on Saturday, Sept. 14, 2019.

The Utah Utes take the field against the Idaho State Bengals in Salt Lake City on Saturday, Sept. 14, 2019. The Utes are pegged as high as No. 15 in one national preseason ranking heading into the new season.

Ravell Call, Deseret News

This article was first published as the Ute Insiders newsletter. Sign up to receive the newsletter in your inbox each Wednesday night.

’Tis the season for preseason rankings.

It’s what the media does to kill time before the college football season kicks off in late August. 

Most pundits expect Utah to compete for the Pac-12 South title this season. Some have the Utes ranked in their preseason top 25. 

“This may be Kyle Whittingham’s best team yet as he has a talented team with 19 returning starters and then enriched it with the transfer portal,” wrote Phil Steele, who ranked Utah No. 15. “The Utes may be a dog in only one game this year and make my Surprise Team list again.”

Pac-12 teams are well-represented in the preseason polls. 

Meanwhile, Whittingham was listed No. 8 in Pro Football Focus’ rankings of top college football coaches in the country. Whittingham is the only Pac-12 coach to make the top 20 and he’s the only head coach in the western United States on the list. 

Turning to basketball, there’s a lot of anticipation about the Runnin’ Utes, who have a new coach in Craig Smith

The Deseret News’ Jay Drew has penned a feature about newcomer David Jenkins and why he will be a fan favorite. He also caught up with former Runnin’ Ute Jordan Loveridge

Numbers game

8%: Chance given by the ESPN FPI of the Pac-12 landing a spot in the College Football Playoff this season. 

9: Preseason football ranking assigned to Oregon by Athlon, the highest for any Pac-12 program. 

15: Utah’s highest preseason football ranking — by Phil Steele.

From the archives

Extra points

Where is Utah football ranked in the preseason? (Deseret News)

Former Runnin’ Ute Loveridge thriving overseas (Deseret News)

Why David Jenkins will be a fan favorite (Deseret News)

Where will the Runnin’ Utes finish in the Pac-12? (Deseret News)

Future Ute plays well at international tournament (Deseret News)


Comments from Deseret News readers

Coach Whitt definitely deserves his top-10 ranking. BYU’s 1984 championship created the BCS. Coach Whitt was the BCS buster. He led a backwater Group of Five program into the Power Five, and due to his coaching, his teams have been able to perennially compete with much more talented programs. He even has a couple of division titles to his credit. His three-star majority teams are starting to produce more NFL draftees than the Pac’s bluebloods. In the future, Coach Whittingham’s time at Utah will be looked upon as a golden age for the program (the same way LaVell’s time is looked at by BYU fans). Hence, enjoy Coach Whitt’s time of success. He won’t be there forever.

— Cyrano

We have watched Jordan (Loveridge) play since he was in the ninth grade. We know and love him and his family. They are truly outstanding people and to see him succeed is heartwarming. He now has a great wife and a darling little boy. He is a hard worker and we only wish him the very best in his future endeavors ... Go WJHS and Go Utes!

— copperqueen

Up next

Sept. 2 | TBD | Football | vs. Weber State | @Rice-Eccles Stadium